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Good Sam residents evacuated from flooding

Posted on Friday, September 15, 2017 at 11:28 am

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
In a scene much like two weeks ago in the Houston area, rapid flooding from Shingle Creek due to the rain from Hurricane Irma has prompted the evacuation of Good Samaritan Village, a retirement community south of Kissimmee.
A fleet of buses from the city of Kissimmee and the Osceola School District, as well as a line of ambulances to move critical care patients, rolled in Tuesday

Photo/stacie miller
A car is submerged in flooding water at Good Samaritan Village.

to get residents away from a rising creek that had exceeded its historical high water mark of 61.5 feet, on its way up past 62.5 feet. The rising water swamped the mobile home community beginning late Monday.
The flooding kept Osceola’s Emergency Management operations running at full activation level by midweek, prompting the community evacuation.
“It’s part of our operation to monitor the creek levels,” county spokesperson Mark Pino said. “We knew where the flooding would be the highest first. From there we pulled out the plan to relocate people, and it was a fairly orderly thing.”
Nearly 200 were sent to a makeshift shelter at Osceola Heritage Park, and about 100 others were transported to the Barney Veal Center at the Osceola County Council on Aging. About 50 more, with bigger care needs, were sent to another Good Samaritan facility in Daytona Beach or a hospice facility. When the flood waters seriously rose Tuesday afternoon, some were seen being taken to the complex’s main entrance by airboat.
Pino said another 100 to 200 may not have been in the area or, like Diane Farrell, were able to self-evacuate. While the plan was to evacuate everyone currently on property it wasn’t a mandatory evacuation, and Pino said some people did stay.
Making matters worse, the traffic signal at John Young Parkway and Pleasant Hill Road, a daily traffic choke point under normal conditions, was still not functioning Tuesday after the storm, making response to the flooding even more difficult for emergency vehicles.
Farrell, who has lived in Good Samaritan Village for four years, left late Monday after riding out Irma in her home the night before with — what she thought was — a little incident.
“I have an SUV so I was able to get out,” she said, noting she left Tuesday to stay with her daughter in Orlando. “They started asking us to leave on Monday night but I wanted to stay over one more night. My home is near the biggest lake, but it’s up five or six feet above the water. I’ve never seen it close to flooding.
Good Samaritan is prone to flooding, but Farrell said she hadn’t seen anything noteworthy in her time living there.
“People told me it started to happen during (2004’s Hurricane) Charley,” she said. “People who I’ve spoken with said it could be about a week before we can go back, but I don’t know if they’ll be ready by then. It looks pretty bad.”
For those wanting to make donations for Hurricane Irma victims, drop-offs can be made at the Salvation Army, near Vine and Main Streets about three miles west of OHP. Osceola Heritage Park is not a donation site.
Two websites were listed on a big board at the shelter (good-sam.com/Irma and /donate) to make cash donations and find what other goods are needed.
Residents can also donate to the county’s Osceola REDI fund, designed for such disasters like this and the Hotel UNNO fire in December, right from the county’s website (www.osceola.org).