Tropical Storm Isaac left an unwelcome surprise for residents of Wellington, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, as widespread flooding overwhelmed many areas of the city.
Beginning on Sunday night, more than 14 inches of rain fell during a 24-hour period as the outer bands of Isaac passed over Florida. Canals crested their banks, and water rose as high as 4 feet over major roads on Monday afternoon. Much of Binks Forest and Aero Club Road were completely under water, as was the normally busy intersection of Wellington Trace and Greenview Shores Blvd.
By this morning, flooded areas had receded by 40 percent, and city officials were keeping a close eye on the weather in the hopes that more rain wouldn’t fall on already waterlogged ground. Local residents were encouraged not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.
Arenas and roads at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center were underwater after canals surrounding the property overflowed. Sunday’s classes at the ESP Summer III jumper show were canceled in anticipation of the storm, and it was unknown whether the ESP Labor Day show scheduled for this weekend at the PBIEC would go on as scheduled. As of Monday afternoon, the International Arena was half underwater, while the hunter rings and surrounding warm-up and roads had completely merged with the canal that runs north of the PBIEC.
The southern area of Wellington, which includes most of the Equestrian Preserve, received the worst flooding, spurring city officials to seek emergency permission to put a pump station into use that’s been held in reserve for a decade. That pump, which empties into the Loxahatchee Wildlife Reserve, has now been in use for 24 hours in order to improve conditions in the Equestrian Preserve.
“We’ve had a 100-year storm event,” said John Bonde, deputy manager of the Village of Wellington. “Anything over 12 inches of rain is a 100-year storm event, and we’ve had reports indicating that some areas received as much as 17 inches over the three days of the storm.”
Just to the north in Loxahatchee, flooding was also widespread. Pastured horses were seen standing in several feet of water, and many roads were completely impassable or washed out. North of White Fences Equestrian Center, Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue was hit by some of the worst flooding and is now scrambling to relocate its 43 horses after water completely overtook their property.
“We are looking at a total loss,” said Pure Thoughts co-founder Jennifer Swanson. “Anywhere you walk on the farm it’s past your knees. It’s going to take months before we’re back up and running. Everything that we have, from halters and vet supplies, to all of our hay and feed was destroyed.”
Pure Thoughts is in need of dry stalls in the immediate area to temporarily house horses, as well as hay donations, feed, fencing material and supplies. To donate supplies or funds, visit purethoughtshorserescue.org.
“We’re looking at anywhere from 24 to 36 hours for much of the water to begin to recede in Wellington,” added Bonde. “It’s slower than we want, but we’ve seen a great deal of improvement overnight. Roadways are improving each hour, and given good weather today, it will continue to improve.”
Stables in Boynton Beach and Delray Beach have opened their doors to horses needing temporary relocation. Visit this link for more information.