JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Saturday, dozens of community members gave their time to clean a section of Hogans Creek in Historic Springfield. They come out on the third Saturday of every month, but the cleaning that took place this past weekend was especially important since it followed the recent floods that caused vehicles to get trapped in the parking lot of a nearby hospital.
The volunteers collected a wide variety of items, including trash and debris, used needles, and even a bicycle.
Shanell Davis-Bryant was the one that pushed everyone forward. She is the program manager for Groundwork Jacksonville, which is working in partnership with the city of Jacksonville to build the thirty-mile long Emerald Trail.
“Cleaning out the stormwater drains, things like that help to reduce flooding in the area. But it also keeps trash out of the creek, which keeps out of the St. Johns River, which keeps it out of the Atlantic Ocean,” Davis-Bryant said.
It is about time that Hogans Creek and the nearby McCoys Creek were restored, since both of these areas are known for experiencing floods.
On Thursday, flash floods struck Springfield, causing significant damage. It spanned a distance of about one and a half miles from the location of the cleanup to the parking lot of the Pavilion at UF Health on Jefferson Street, where it left several vehicles stranded in water.
Davis-Bryant said that the cleanup that took place on Saturday would not prevent future flash floods since the problem is structural.
“It is really going to prevent the smaller flooding, like from stormwater drains for being clogged up. It is going to help trash from rushing down into the system,” she said.
“There are little items that get pushed up with the flash flooding, especially with the cleanup after. It helps the volunteers access it better. It knocks it out of those nooks and crannies so we can go and get it,” said Alicia Smith, who volunteers often.
Both Smith and Bryant-Davis think that these ongoing efforts to clean up the area also educate and engage the community.
“It takes many hands to get a job done. We need you in order to get this project done,” said Smith.
According to Davis-Bryant, “There are sometimes groups that live in Mandarin, they live at the Beaches, and they have never been to historic Springfield. They have never seen down by the stadium area. I guess people who live here, they get to see it in a different light.”
According to Groundwork Jacksonville, volunteers picked up 540 bags full of trash between June 2021 and July 2022.