Erika Kaput;
Fred is off Africa

As of 8 a.m. on Sunday (Aug. 30), information from the National Hurricane Center in Miami shows a trough of low pressure associated with the remnants of Erika is producing areas of heavy rain over portions of south Florida, the Florida Keys, and Cuba. Although there are no signs of redevelopment at this time, upper-level winds could become marginally favorable for tropical cyclone formation over the next day or so. Regardless of this system's prospects for regeneration, locally heavy rains and gusty winds are expected to spread northwestward and then northward across Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico later today (Sunday) and Monday. Additional information on this system can be found in marine forecasts and local forecast products issued by the National Weather Service and the meteorological service of Cuba.
Graphic by the National Hurricane Center

Published Aug. 30, 2015 @ 9:47 a.m.

Minion Found
Tyler Russ (left), an award-winning go cart racer, and Sonny Griffeth, owner of Chiefland Farmers Flea Market are seen on Saturday morning (Aug. 29) near the front office of the Flea Market, where this Minion appears to have become separated from his parents. The little guy is safely awaiting their arrival. Griffeth created the Minion from tires that Russ had finished using  from go cart racing. 'I'm happy they were put to good use,' Russ said about the recycling of the old tires. The Flea Market is starting to show the strong vitality that comes with fall. To see more about the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market, click HERE. Remember to look, because it is open Sunday and there is plenty to see and buy there.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 29, 2015 @ 10:47 p.m.

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Motorcycle group
seeks survivors' input

Submitted By Darrin “Scribe” Brook
State Legislative Trustee
ABATE of Florida Inc.
Published Aug. 25, 2015 @ 10:37 p.m.

     TRI-COUNTY AREA -- ABATE of Florida Inc. is looking for families who have lost a family member or friend in a motorcycle crash that was the fault of another vehicle.
     The majority of people who kill or seriously injure a motorcyclist get a failure to yield, running a red light or some other minor traffic citation. It is time for the voices of those that have suffered this terrible loss to be heard up in Tallahassee. It is time to address this problem before more loved ones are lost.
     ABATE of Florida Inc. is Florida’s largest Motorcycle Rights Organization. We have Chapters all across the State of Florida made up of men and women who love riding and who want to promote motorcycle safety and motorcycle awareness to the general public. ABATE of Florida Inc. is contacted many times each year by people who have suffered a loss and feel that a great injustice was done when the driver of the other vehicle only gets a small ticket. A recent example, I was contacted by a mother who lost her 21-year-old daughter while riding home one evening. Her daughter was wearing a full face helmet, armored riding jacket and gear. The person who killed her turned left, running a red light, crossing several lanes of traffic before killing her daughter. The person was only given a ticket for running a red light.
     We are not just talking about motorcycles. We need to protect all the vulnerable road users on Florida roadways. Bicyclist, pedestrians, road construction workers and all others have a legal right to travel on or near roadways. If you know someone who has been killed or seriously injured as a result of another vehicle driver's negligence, please contact ABATE of Florida Inc. and tell us your story.
     Sometimes the legislative / legal system needs a reminder that there is a problem. We are asking for your help to put a face and a story to the cold statistics. Your story can help to change the law to help protect other vulnerable road users so that more families do not have to suffer a needless loss.
     If you would like to share your story and help us show the legislators that the vulnerable road users need help, contact ABATE of Florida Inc. at this email address The website for ABATE of Florida Inc. is
     PUBLISHER'S NOTE: ABATE is an acronym which originally stood for "A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments" and alternatively stands for "American Bikers Against Totalitarian Enactments," "A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education," "American Bikers for Awareness, Training and Education," "American Bikers Aimed Towards Education," "American Bikers Advocating Training and Education" with other combinations used.

South Levy County
residents prepare
for flood relief meeting

Pamela Willis (right) speaks to the Levy County Commission. Levy County Clerk Danny Shipp, who is also the clerk to the County Commission, is seen listening too.

Story and Photos

By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 19, 2015 @ 3:37 p.m.
     BRONSON – A group of people from the Inglis-Yankeetown area of Levy County plan to present to the Levy County Commission on Sept.  8 some information that they hope will lead to some relief from repeat flood issues, according to statements by a couple of residents on Tuesday morning (Aug. 18) at the County Commission meeting.
     Pamela Willis and Eldridge Fowler spoke about the current situation in regard to drainage where they live.
     Willis said she bought property in 2005 and has experienced flooding there annually and sometimes twice in a year.
     She said she believes this problem is because there are two sets of 10-foot culverts within a half mile of her house. These drainage devices are dilapidated, Willis added.
     There are six, 36-inch diameter, 10-foot long culverts that need repair or replacement, Willis said. She started giving some specific information about Butler Road and the culverts.
     She brought pictures for the County Commission to see as she said there was 24-inches of water on her yard recently.
     In consideration of the three-minute time limit for non-agenda public comment, Willis said she plans to have this issue put on the agenda for the Sept. 8 meeting, and during that meeting she will provide more information.
     Willis said she anticipates more southern Levy County residents will be there too.
     Fowler said that except for the eight years he was in the military he has lived in Inglis.

Levy County commissioners Lilly Rooks (left) and Mike Joyner listen to their constituents on Tuesday (Aug. 18). In this photo, Commissioner Joyner is viewing flooding in the Inglis area.

     He said the county government told him three years ago that the culverts have been bought and that the workers were just waiting on dry weather to replace the old culverts.
     “That never happened,” he said.
     He said he was raised in Inglis. He is familiar with the culverts about which Willis spoke on U.S. Highway 19.
      “I walked three miles up toward Dunnellon from 19,” Fowler said. “And I’ve walked from 19 all the way to the Gulf (of Mexico). I was there when the town and the state made that mosquito control ditch.
     “I was actually out there fishing as a kid,” he continued. “And all the kids were upset because it was messin’ up our fishin’ area.”
     Several ponds and streams were connected for better drainage, he said, and this emptied into the Gulf of Mexico.
     “I’ve walked every bit of that,” Fowler said. “Since 1962, it (the mosquito control ditch) has never, ever been cleaned out. The county did go in one time, with some prisoners, and cleaned some trees out.”
     Fowler said he cleaned out 300 yards with his tractor, when there was blockage.
     “That 60-foot canal she’s talking about,” Fowler said in reference to something Willis said, “dumps down by Yankeetown to a six-foot wide ditch. How can a six-foot wide ditch handle drainage from a 60-foot wide canal?”
     There was no action. The two people were among those who spoke during the public comment part of the morning. However, Willis did indicate that she plans to follow through with more as an agenda item at the next regular Levy County Commission meeting.

Dixie County flood victims
struggle with aftermath

Edith Case and her husband Robert are working through this time after they lost almost everything in a flash flood.

Story and Photos

By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 17, 2015 @ 11:17 p.m.
     DIXIE COUNTY -- Hundreds of people suffered from flood damage to their property in the past few weeks in Dixie County, Dixie County Division Chief of Emergency Management Scott C. Garner said on Monday (Aug. 17).

      People are still struggling to cope with everyday demands as they try to piece their lives together in some situations.
     One of the most dramatic rescues happened two weeks ago Sunday, on Aug. 2.
     Edith Case, 68, was on her way to work in the very early morning. She works at Casey's Cove Diner just outside of Jena. She was driving her 2004 Toyota Tacoma, which she had paid off.
     "I saw the water going across the road and I thought I could just drive through it," she said. "I went a little way and then stopped. The current pushed me off the road and into a ditch. I was up to my chest in water and the electric windows would not work."
     Case said she waited in the truck for an hour before rescuers were able to take her from the partially submerged vehicle.

Dixie County Emergency Management Division Chief Scott Garner and everyone in Dixie County government are seeing added demands to their normal operations as they strive to help flood victims. For instance, office staff at the Emergency Operations Center are having to perform other duties beyond their normal jobs, and this is putting stress on them as they try to keep up with their daily work.

     Garner, Division Fire Chief Darian Brown, two lieutenants with Dixie County EMS and Dixie County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Claude Hart rescued her from the vehicle. They took her to a boat, and then to dry land and to her family. Her husband Robert, 60, is a double-amputee. Rescuers went to the Cases' home in Mingo Acres (Steinhatchee) and took him from the cabin.
     That structure had 10-plus inches of water in it for more than seven days after that, Garner said.
     Case said she has lived there for 30 years, and while there has been some minor damage from slight floods, this most recent flash flood taught her what a flash flood can do.
     When there was a little flooding it was an adventure, she said, “because it was out there.” Once it starts coming in the house, it is terrible.
     "There was no water on the road Saturday night (Aug. 1)," she said. "But the current was so strong across the road on Sunday morning. It was scary. I was scared.”
     Garner said the rescue was in the very wee hours of the morning and it was dark. Case said she did not know if the truck would be swept away.
     The Case family’s pump was still underwater on Monday, and there is no way for them to use their cabin for now now.
     They are renting a fifth-wheeler to live in.
     "I just want to go home," she said. "We own three lots and a cabin. It ain't much, but it's all we've got. It's our home."
     Case said she does not understand why the Federal Emergency Management Agency can't act more quickly to help her and her husband.
     "The mold in the house is terrible," she said. "Some people asked me if we rolled up the carpets and took them out. I'm 68 years old and my husband is a double amputee. Do you think we can roll up our carpets?”
     Case said it is not like she and her husband can just pull up stakes and go somewhere, either. She has to go to work. They are doing their best day-by-day now.
     In addition to the rescuers who saved her from the submerged truck and those who saved her husband from the house that was being inundated with water, Case said another person deserves recognition for helping her and her husband. Tanner Lytle has been a godsend, she said, as he has helped them. But he has to work too.
     Another neighbor who went into action was James Mikesell. He cleared the Main Line for neighbors to get out. He used his little Bobcat tractor to clear the road. Mikesell wonders when the county will repair the roads.
     Garner said the Dixie County Emergency Management staff and the Dixie County Road Department are working diligently to help people.
     There were between 250 and 300 homes that were either damaged or otherwise affected by floodwater, Garner said. Forty had minor damage and 12 had major damage. The Case home was in the major damage category, he said.
     There were three rescues. Case was one. Another was a family of four off of Rocky Creek Road (Dixie County Road 361 West). And the third was in Taylor County where the Dixie County EMS team assisted a cardiac call.
     Garner is working with other Emergency Management offices in Taylor, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties to present data to FEMA so that it can determine how much to help these five counties that were declared as disaster areas by Gov. Rick Scott.
     Now the people have to wait, Garner said, because it is a slow process with FEMA. Immediately after the flash flood and with assistance by the American Red Cross, Dixie County Emergency Management opened a shelter on four occasions in the past two weeks. No one came to use it, he said.
     The Southern Baptist Convention brought in hot shower units for people to use there too, he said. But no one came to use them.
     (Lydia Baptist Church was one of the churches that had its Sunday services at another location due to flooding.)
     Garner said that until, or if, FEMA helps, these families will need to rely on aid from family, friends and their insurance companies.
     As for roadwork that must be done to bring the thoroughfares back to the condition they were in before the floods, Garner said the Road Department has been working overtime for two weeks now.
     They must continue to maintain their normal day-to-day work for maintenance and operations on all the roads in the county. With lime rock roads, he said, they cannot have lime rock added when they are wet. It just makes the road conditions worse.
     “With the regular afternoon rains and the summer pattern that we are seeing now,” Garner said, “it is a constant battle (to keep regular maintenance and repair the storm-damaged roads).”
     There was an inch and a half of rain at the EOC on Saturday and about another ½-inch on Sunday at the office. In Florida, though, there can be a half-inch in one place and three inches not that far away.
     Garner addressed another concern of Dixie County residents whose wells, septic tanks and drain fields are underwater. There is not any water distribution at the Emergency Operation Center in Cross City.
     None of the cities in Dixie County lost municipal water service he said. There was no break in service. The city water is fine. That is why there is not water distribution at the EOC.
     However, if people who need water will bring their own containers to any county fire department, they can fill them with drinking water there, Garner said. And people should check with the Florida Department of Health’s Dixie County Unit to determine how much chlorine to flush their wells with when they can start working again.
     And the Health Department can advise people on the cost to test well water, he said.

In addition to the content of these D11 Disaster Services boxes from the American Red Cross, people were picking up an anti-mold solution in spray bottles on Monday.

     On Monday, several people came to the EOC to obtain an American Red Cross box for cleaning up. It included a bucket, sponges, and other items. The people were also given a bottle of mold-fighting fluid that could be sprayed to help reduce that health problem.
     Reaching complete recovery for these families will be a long process, Garner said. This is a time when family and friends may come to the aid of their loved ones. As for the government helping, FEMA takes a long time and the county is doing the best it can.
     Garner said that for the number of people on staff and the amount of equipment they have, he is pleased by the results they have obtained so far. And they will always continue trying to help the public as best as they can, he said.

Big Waves
The waves caused by recent storm weather crash against the seawall along Cedar Key's Dock Street as vehicles catch a bit of the salty mist from the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 16, 2015 @ 8:07 p.m.

-- UPDATED --    

SUN.  AUG. 30  9:47 a.m.



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