Polk County residents prepare for more rain

People who live on or near Crooked Lake in South Polk County are watching Tropical Storm Dorian closely.

The water level of Crooked Lake has been creeping higher since ongoing rain began almost a month ago. Even a moderate amount of rain from Dorian could make the situation much worse.

It is already so bad at Linda Bell's lakeside home, she moved out all her furniture and appliances to higher ground. Her deck is already submerged. Another 15 feet or so, and it will be up to her backdoor.

"Everything is gone," she told FOX 13. "When [the water] starts coming on the porch, then I gotta go."

It's not as dire for her neighbors around the lake, but they are worried what Dorian may bring.

"The canal is way up," said Sherry Oakes.

"The water is four to five feet higher than normal," said her husband, Harold.

As a result, many docks in Crooked Lake Village have been under water for a week or more.

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Jack Beasley knows how bad it can get. Back in 2004, lake water covered most of his backyard. He was able to literally fish off his patio. He says he learned something.

"You don't worry about something you can't control," he said.

Like others around the Bay Area, Polk County residents are getting ready for whatever Mother Nature brings by getting free sand and buying generators. A line of people awaited their chance at free sandbags in Polk County as six sites opened up Wednesday morning. 

Tropical Storm Dorian is still thousands of miles away, and its track may or may not bring it to the east coast of Florida. Forecasters predict it will make landfall somewhere along the southeast U.S. as a hurricane. 

Hills of sand were seen at the Polk County sandbag sites with a steady stream of people waiting their turn. Those six sites will be open from 7 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. from Tuesday through Thursday at the following locations: 

Mulberry – 900 NE 5th St., Mulberry, (863) 519-4734
Lakeland – 8970 N. Campbell Road, Lakeland (863) 815-6701
Fort Meade – 1061 NE 9th St., Fort Meade (863) 285-6588
Frostproof – 350 County Road 630A, Frostproof (863) 635-7879
Auburndale – 1701 Holt Road, Auburndale (863) 965-5524
Dundee – 805 Dr. Martin Luther King St. SW, Dundee, (863) 421-3367

The times and dates could change depending on the storm's track, according to county officials. There is a limit of ten bags per person. 

The city of Winter Haven was planning to make sandbags available starting Thursday.

No other Polk communities have announced plans yet.

Residents living in flood zones are encouraged to take advantage of the free sandbags. Officials provided the following sandbagging techniques: 

1) If not working on concrete, a small ditch should be dug just deep enough to go below ground level. The ditch should be back far enough from the entrance to allow room to place optional submersible (sump) pumps into the protected area. The edge of the Visqueen should be placed in the ditch as a bottom layer.

2) Place the first row of sandbags in ditch, fold Visqueen over the top of first row, place a second row of bags on top, fold Visqueen back over, place a third row of bags on top, and so on. This creates an "S" pattern with the Visqueen.

3) Depending on the size of the barrier, one or more submersible (sump) pumps should be utilized. The barrier will not completely stop water from entering the protected area. However, with the proper placement of bags, Visqueen and sump pumps, water, in most cases, can be removed quickly.