Floodwaters inch lower, but access still weeks away
Published 6:58 pm Friday, July 5, 2019
EAGLE LAKE — Nearly four months after Warren County officials issued a mandatory evacuation of Eagle Lake, flood waters are slowly receding. As of Wednesday, 438 structures have been damaged and water was down about one foot.
Floating gas tanks, dead wildlife and a multitude of household items drift through the water covering the almost deserted Eagle Lake community. “Slow: Children cross here” traffic signs and bird houses stand just above the polluted water as its stench rises in the summer heat.
“Most of the time when you put up a birdhouse, you’re not concerned about turtles eating your baby birds,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said as he passed by a birdhouse sticking out of the water.
Water stands against the sides of homes; some lapping near the top of the front door, or dancing below the ragged and discolored water mark caused from damage when flood levels were higher.
Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer said it would be weeks, if not one month, before waters could totally recede in Eagle Lake. Whether the water level rises or falls depends on how much rain the community receives.
Elfer said the number one factor in deciding when to lift the mandatory evacuation is safety, and pleaded for the community to continue to stay away from flooded areas.
“We have been so fortunate that we haven’t had any fatalities or serious injuries, and we want to keep it that way,” Elfer said. “The Sheriff’s Office, fire services and emergency management have been doing everything we can to protect life and property. Life comes first.”
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office continuously monitors the Eagle Lake community by boat and vehicle. Pace, who makes personal visits to the area several times each week, said one of the most difficult things to observe is the impact the flood has had on wildlife.
“The human suffering is heartbreaking, but equally heartbreaking is the devastation to native wildlife that have run out of food and shelter,” Pace said.
The flood has displaced many deer, raccoons, foxes and possums, many of whom are seen along the edges of the levee road searching for food and shelter.