It rained and rained and rained last week. Then it rained some more.
To be exact, for the four-day period from July 3-6, almost a foot of rain — a total of 11.18-inches — fell in Destin, according to the city's Weather Station located at City Hall. The total rainfall is only second to the 21.78-inches that fell over a six-day period during Hurricane Georges in 1998.
"I have never seen that much rain over a Fourth of July holiday," said John Comer, president and CEO of the Southern Restaurant Group, which operates four eateries in Destin. "It was super busy — we saw a lot of people."
With the rain falling pretty much all day long, visitors and locals found themselves migrating to restaurants, retailers and other indoor attractions. And for those who were experiencing cabin fever, they found creative ways to entertain themselves on Destin's flooded roadways and in storm water swales.
“Fudpucker’s usually sees a positive impact on business when it rains, and last week was no exception," said David Smith, the restaurant's marketing director. "The thing that was a little unusual for us is that we were actually doing more sales during the day then we were at night and that rarely happens. Whenever sales are slow, we joke that all we need is a little rain.”
For Destin Commons General Manager Bob Perry, the rain definitely brought a spike in business.
“It was a very busy week for us due to the weather," he told The Log. "Many days were like Christmas shopping in July. Our theater and most retailers we spoke with far exceeded their traffic and sales expectations.”
And while retailers and restaurant operators saw a spike in business, the excessive rainfall posed problems in some areas of the city, where crews had to hook up their pipes and drain water from flooded areas.
Tim Pietenpol, the city's acting public services director, told The Log that "unfortunately" there are some areas of the city, such as the intersection of Indian Bayou Drive and Country Club Drive that are prone to flooding when a significant amount of rain falls.
"Historically this has been a problem area," he said.
In preparation for the anticipated rainfall, Pietenpol said his crews prepped the drains in the area to make sure they were clear and could flow as easily as possible. While there were no major issues Wednesday or Thursday, roads and yards were flooded and the city received a phone call from a homeowner Friday as water backed up.
Crews were on site by 2 p.m. and began to pump out water through a six-inch pipe. The pumping continued until 11 a.m. Saturday morning.
With a couple punches on a calculator, Pietenpol tallied the totals and said his crews pumped more than 3 million gallons of water from the intersection.
"That's a lot of water," he said.
Crews also took a smaller pump to Vintage Circle, off of Benning Drive, and pumped out more than 1 million gallons of water.
The flooding issues in Indian Bayou are well-known to city officials. Pietenpol said City Engineer David Campbell and staff are "looking for solutions," which could include increasing the size of the pipes that drain water from the neighborhood.
Despite the tremendous amount of rainfall, Pietenpol said the city only received one report of an Indian Bayou home being breached by water.
"That's the most standing water I've seen when there wasn't a storm or a hurricane," he said.
Dr. Ken Whidden, of Emerald Coast Chiropractic, lives in Indian Bayou and he and his daughter Jessica took advantage of the flooded streets and pulled out their paddleboards.
"The flooding was higher than we've seen in the 12 years we've been here," he told The Log. "More than when we had tropical storms and hurricane conditions."
"It was definitely knee to thigh high," he added. "Twenty-two to twenty-five inches. Crazy."