Southwest Florida dealt with some heavy rains overnight as Elsa high-tailed it to the northern Gulf Coast. Some areas received enough rain to leave busy roads impassable, especially in Cape Coral.
The list of roads to avoid was so long that Cape Coral police said on Facebook it would be quicker to “just say ‘everywhere’.” They told drivers to stay home if they didn’t need to go out.
“I had never seen a river between two houses,” said Paul, a Cape Coral resident.
But that’s exactly what Elsa left behind just off Tropicana Parkway East.
“Well, I want to go out for breakfast…and no…no breakfast today for me,” he said.
No breakfast for Paul, and no driving for his neighbor, Rosemary Eisenbach.
“It’s flooded; this street’s the worst, but not this bad,” she said.
What’s more, every time a car drove past her home, water was pushed closer to home and car.
“I’m sure there’s water in it [the car],” Eisenbach said.
She was right. WINK News waded through the water to check inside her car and found two inches at least.
There are still some small areas of flooding in north Cape Coral. A Porta Potty was seen floating near a home under construction.
– Sydney Persing reporting from Cape Coral
Here was the list of roads that CCPD told people to avoid Wednesday morning:
- Diplomat Parkway (essentially all of it)
- Trafalgar Parkway (all of it)
- Tropicana Parkway (100 block east)
- Santa Barbara Blvd (Diplomat to Pine Island Rd)
- Nicholas Parkway (both west/east of Santa Barbara)
- Hancock Bridge Pkwy (from Santa Barbara to
Cultural Park Blvd)
- Cape Coral Pkwy West (right lanes of both east/
- 3400 and 4400 blocks of Skyline Blvd
- SW 32nd Street (1700 to 2000 block)
- Chiquita Blvd & SW 14th Terrace
- 200 block of SE 10th Terrace
- 400 block of SW 7th Court
- SE 9th Avenue (near Post Office)
- The Crossings complex (1100 Hancock Creek South
- Beach Parkway West & SW 17th Avenue
- Embers Pkwy & Burnt Store Road
Along Diplomat Parkway, some people made the dangerous decision to drive through floodwaters. The City ended up shutting down some roads when the water got too deep.
“Glad I don’t live down that road,” said Anna Marie George with a laugh.
“I was going to take him [her grandson] to day care but I decided not to because it was still pouring down rain … so I said not today.”
That was a smart move. Police and tow truck drivers had to rescue plenty of drivers who decided to risk it.
Kerry Yacono was one of those who risked it, but she made it through.
“It almost went halfway up the door and I thought I was going to stall for sure but I didn’t. I was on my way to work. So I kept on going,” she said.
Her keyword now is wait. Wait for the water to recede.
“I waited a few hours until after it stopped raining so it would all go away.”
Some new Floridians, like Bill Myers, never saw pools in the streets before.
“Oh yeah, my street is almost that bad, the whole intersection is flooded,” he said.
“I’ve been down here 2 1/2 years so this is my real first more than rainstorm.”
Now he knows, and he wants you to know, too.
“I’d say watch out for the puddles. You never know what’s in there.”
Because it’s Florida and it will happen again.
“Just be very careful and if it does look deep and you can turn around, turn around before you get in it,” Yacono said.
– Anika Henanger reporting from Cape Coral
Flooding wasn’t only a problem for the north Cape. Areas along Chiquita Boulevard south of Pine Island Road also saw some deep water covering roads and yards.
“Oh, I’ve never seen it flood like this,” said Chris Bubnis.
For veteran Walt Szeliga, he just wanted to get home.
“I had to go to the VA at 7:30. So, we got there without any problem and there was no floods, but coming back now, everything’s flooded.”
Drivers weren’t the only ones having trouble navigating. Runner Robert Riggins is in town visiting friends and was trying to make the most of the wet weather.
“Yesterday just felt like rain. And then, you know, overnight, you start hearing more and more in the wind. And then you wake up this morning and you tried to go get breakfast and you have to detour 10 times.”
– Stephanie Byrne reporting from Cape Coral
Cape Coral wasn’t the only place in Lee County dealing with a multitude of water Wednesday. Their neighbors to the west on Bokeelia also saw flooding.
It was the worst Daniel Cohill said he’d seen in a while. He woke to find water in his garage and home along Marina Drive.
“Probably 2:30 this morning, it starts leaking in through the walls a little bit, and then once that happens it all breaks loose,” he said.
“We didn’t expect that much rain to be honest.”
Outside the home, more water in his yard, standing water on the street and lake water overflowing.
“This is an ongoing issue for this neighborhood, this drainage system here,” Cohill said.
His garage and home are drying up and he was pumping water out of his yard.
“I mean, this is the worst. The other storms, it’s barely leaked in but this is definitely the worst I’ve seen as far as this house, but you know, I don’t want to be around for the big one if this is the problem.”
With a long way to go until the end of hurricane season, Cohill’s hoping his neighborhood takes quick action to fix the drainage system so he doesn’t wake up to flooding like this again.
Another neighbor said he saw worse flooding from Elsa than he did from Hurricane Irma in 2017.
– Breana Ross reporting from Bokeelia