NewsRegion C Palm Beach CountyLoxahatchee Acreage


High water in Loxahatchee affecting animal rescues

Posted at 7:33 PM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-29 10:45:07-04

The rain may have stopped on the Memorial Day holiday, but neighbors out in Loxahatchee and beyond are still dealing with the high water.

People aren't the only ones being affected. Animals are having trouble, too!

Barky Pines Animal Rescue in Loxahatchee had to evacuate more than 70 dogs and animals last week due to last weekend's rainfall. The water is still so high out there, you can’t get in or out without a high water vehicle.

“It’s been difficult," said rescue founder Elizabeth Accomando rushed out more than 70 shelter animals last week due to high water from the never ending rain. The animals were evacuated to various locations across Palm Beach County who offered to take them in.

Tropical Storm Alberto, which has been dumping rain over the Florida peninsula, is adding to the chaos this week.

“We has pumped a few inches out and now we gained it back from Alberto but it could’ve been much worse and we were bracing ourselves for that much worse scenario," said Accomando. "The water has no place to go because the canals that surround us are full." 

The Barky Pines property, once filled with dogs, is now mostly filled with the rescued birds like turkeys and ducks.

Supplies for the animals like feed, dog food and leashes that were kept inside storage units are now ruined by the flood. Most of the property is covered in water but in some places, it's as deep as four or five feet.

“We’re doing our best, just keeping an eye on the water," said Accomando. "We can't just walk away from our property here and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we've put into it so far."

But this week, some hope for the rescue. An anonymous person donated money for a developer to come out and elevate and drain the property.

“It was like a miracle. It's literally rescuing the rescue," Accomando said. "When the water recedes, they're going to come out and bring as much dirt as we need. They'll create better drainage on the property and raise it up, bank up the canal higher so it can hold more water."

Meantime, Hillary Dupont and her family run an exotic animal sanctuary out in Loxahatchee, called Prehistoric Preserve on the Joyce Family Farm.

"These are all rescues," she said, pointing to macaws, lemurs, dogs and various turtle species.

The high water is making their life difficult, too.

"Our enclosures are all under water and we have many endangered species out here," she said.

The heavy rains are impacting the already poor drainage and treacherous dirt roads in their area.

"The farmers are over here are overpumping the canals and the canals are breaching and running off onto our properties," Dupont said.

The family is moving their rescued animals out of the water and they're even collecting tortoises fleeing the woods for drier ground. They even moved an African porcupine to higher ground.

"We're in like a state of panic trying to get the animals out of here if we ever overflow any more," Dupont said.

The family also showed us a group of cows that were stranded on dry ground and surrounded by flood waters at a farm nearby.

With more rain on the way, Dupont says they're prepared to evacuate if necessary.

"Everything's been brought up to the house in case we have to do an emergency evacuation and grab all the animals -- we can go. We're bracing for it, so hopefully it doesn't happen."

Accomando and her neighbors are hopeful the county, Loxahatchee officials, South Florida Water Management District -- anyone — can fix the roads and drainage and finally bring them some relief.

“"It needs to be addressed. We all need to work together for the common goal, which is — nobody should flood," she said. "We understand the farms need to pump, everyone needs to eat. We appreciate that. But if we're sharing the same waterway, everybody has to be accommodated. Not just that lot or that section."

Accomando said it's also up to the government entities to take responsibility.

"SFWM, the county, the state. The canal system out here is so bad, it's almost as if we need the Army Corps of Engineers out here to really straighten it all out, clean it all up and have a municipality to maintain it from there," she said. "The same thing with our road, it's a mutual easement, so there's no one to turn to when it gets bad."

Neighbors said they understand the improvements can't happen overnight.

"We know that's not possible. But to know there's a light at the end of the tunnel, for all of this to be corrected," said Accomando.

Luckily, Barky Pines has friends with a high water vehicle to help bring them supplies. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue has also been checking on the families out there twice a day. Click here to donate to the rescue as they recover from the flood.

Tokyo Olympics Medal Count as of late Aug. 1, 2021