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Full Scale Of First Coast Sewage Spills Post-Hurricane Matthew Unknown

Ryan Benk
Flooded streets on Flagler College's campus in downtown St. Augustine .

Update 4:26 p.m. St. Augustine has lifted the boil water notice on Anastasia Island.

Northeast Florida public utilities are in the process of assessing and correcting damage to the region’s infrastructure after Hurricane Matthew.

In addition to lingering power outages and debris-covered roads, officials are also dealing with millions of gallons of toxic sewage.

A steady stream of rain water was spilling into a storm drain on Flagler College’s St. Augustine campus the day after Matthew brushed the First Coast.

Massive flooding in downtown St. Augustine and other areas caused sewers to overspill.

St. Johns County Utility representative Tony Cubbedge told WJCT at this point, information is limited.

“We were inundated in some areas with six to eight feet of storm surge and we have incidences of sanitary sewer overflows, where they’re backing up,” he said. “We’re still working in the field right now to document those and to get all the power restored to the lift stations.”

But Cubbedge said battered barrier islands like Anastasia Island make up most of the impacted area. 

Lift stations are stormwater pumps used to send extra water to higher ground. Until power is restored, he said it’s hard to know just how many areas sewage flowed where it’s not supposed to.

“I know there were about 24 spots that I’ve seen so far,” he said.

In Jacksonville, JEA said more than 6 million gallons of sewage and stormwater overflowed in six parts of the city. The area hit worst was a surface water spill of close to 3 million gallons in the Ortega River, followed by a million gallon overflow off Holiday Road into the Pottsburg Creek.

In accordance with a new rule set up by Governor Rick Scott after two large spills near Tampa Bay, JEA sent notice to the state within a day of the overflow.

Last month, WJCT reported on a survey released by Climate Central warning spills would become more common as storms intensify due to climate change.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.