To get an idea of how bad a flood was, you have to wait until the water goes away.

To many, what IS left after the storm ... is ruin.

But to Al Sandrik, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Jacksonville, it is data.

"We're looking for still water heights that indicated how high the storm surge came. And today what we're more concerned about is areal extent. How far did it spread out over the land. And that's really, really important because even though we had a tropical storm, we had the equivalent of Category 3 storm surge." says Sandrik.

"What we're looking for now is we are looking for cede lines and debris in places like this is a pretty good cede line with still water heights. So to give you a pretty good idea, this is storm surge that is greater than Dora in 1964."

"So how far are we from the river?" asks Betsy Kling, on assignment in Jacksonville, Florida.

"You're approximately 1/4 mile from the river here," Sandrik answered.

"A quarter of a mile from the river and we have 4" of river water here," confirms Kling.

Sandrik answers "Oh it's much deeper in other places, actually."

The record flooding on the St Johns is unique. An unfortunate mix of bad timing with a strong nor'easter for two days that trapped multiple tides in the river. A funneling of that high water from the widest parts of the St Johns to the shallower, narrower channel that runs through Downtown Jacksonville.

And a hurricane that brought fierce winds right up the axis of higher water than ever seen before.