Like Hurricane Irma only worse: In Winter Springs, a police boat navigates the streets

Nicholas Nehamas/

Michele Young was lucky she still had some bright yellow caution tape left over from decorating her Winter Springs home last Halloween.

As Hurricane Ian dumped inches of rain on this city of 38,000 in Seminole County Thursday morning, a small creek overflowed its banks — and washed away half of Shore Road, just a quarter mile from Young’s home.

“Gee Creek, it’s normally about a foot of water,” she said. “But with all the rain, it was going across the road like a river.”

Young and her husband, Ted, grabbed the serendipitous roll of caution tape from their house and strung it across both sides of the partially collapsed street — wrapping it around a mailbox and a utility pole on the north side of the gash and a tree and a stop sign on the south.

“We saw a couple people trying to drive around it,” Young said. “People were letting their kids go right up to it. We didn’t want anyone to fall in.”

While the floodwaters had largely receded by 5 p.m., Young said that this morning police boats were cruising through the streets rescuing neighbors stranded nearby. The Youngs hadn’t had power since 3:30 a.m.

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They moved to Winter Springs in 2017 — just before Hurricane Irma swept through. That time, they didn’t have electricity for a week. But the flooding brought by Ian was so much worse.

“This storm just dumped all this water on us,” Ted Young said. “And it didn’t have anywhere to go.”

Miami Herald staff writer Alex Harris contributed to this report.