July has been a wet month.
The average monthly rainfall for July is 7.3 inches, making it the wettest month of the year. While the record of 18 inches set in 1984 was not broken, the county almost doubled the expected rainfall with more than 12 inches of rain.
Local residents with rain gauges anecdotally reported much higher amounts of rain in some areas of the county. Rod Gasche of Carrabelle, who watched both a digital and a traditional rain gauge, received almost 12 inches of rain between July 18 and 25.
Recorded rainfall exceeded an inch at Apalachicola Regional Airport on July 3, 4, 19 and 22.
Andy Lahr, a volunteer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Tallahassee, said the wettest day was Monday, July 22 with more than three inches, which broke the previous July 22 record of two-and-a-half inches set in 1963.
All this water caused problems across the county. During the first week of the month, rain caused Independence Day celebrations to be rescheduled in both Carrabelle and on St. George Island. And there has been a large number of days in which the bay has been caused to oyster harvesting due to concerns over runoff into the estuary waters.
On the bright side, housebound visitors flocked to local businesses, leading to a windfall for local merchants and restaurateurs.
On July 23, county road crews performed emergency repairs on Buck Road in Eastpoint, after the road washed out near the entry to Ridge Road, stranding homeowners. This is the third time the county has repaired the privately owned thoroughfare even though at the July 15 county meeting, attorney Michael Shuler told commissioners county crews could not legally work on the road.
On Monday, July 22, Carrabelle’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) alarm system warned city hall that parts of the sewer system were being overwhelmed by the huge influx of water.
City Clerk Keisha Messer said the SCADA system reacts when pumps are running constantly or water pressure starts to drop. It notifies Messer, Water and Sewer Head Keith Mock and other employees of the water department by telephone that there is a problem.
“Water and sewer crews worked round the clock from Monday until Thursday to try and keep the system running,” said Messer. Parts of the city were briefly without service during that timeframe, but by Thursday afternoon all problems were resolved.
Because of the problems with the sewer system and flooding on Gray Avenue, The Nest summer youth program in Carrabelle was cancelled for July 23 but reopened the following day.
On July 24, the county health department issued contamination advisories for both Carrabelle Beach and Alligator Point. Environmental health specialist Melissa Durkin said samples taken on July 22 showed unacceptable levels of fecal bacteria at both sites.
Carrabelle Beach had 118 colonies of enterocci per 100 ml of water and Alligator Point had 106. The cutoff for safe exposure is 104 colonies per 100 ml of water.
Durkin said readings at all county sites were higher than normal on July 22. “We were surprised to see poor ratings because we haven’t seen poor ratings recently,” she said.
She said the contamination was likely caused by the heavy runoff and that samples taken while it is raining were “not ideal.”
Durkin said the health department was following a protocol that determines when beach water will be sampled.
According to Durkin, the water will be resampled in two weeks. In the meantime, advisory signs are posted at the two beaches.
The advisory did not deter swimmers at Carrabelle Beach on July 27. About two dozen adults and children were frolicking in the surf and many more were enjoying the sunshine.