Three week flooding problem plagues Lake Placid woman - WFLA News Channel 8

Three week flooding problem plagues 78-year-old Lake Placid woman

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Photo courtesy of Rick Shorrock Photo courtesy of Rick Shorrock

A 78-year-old homeowner feels hopeless after floodwaters have come up to the slab of her home for nearly three weeks.

"I've called everybody there is to call to try to get something done," Lorraine Russell said. "Water was seeping into the walls."

She and her neighbors along Washington Blvd in Lake Placid believe a nearby marshy area is the main contributor to the problem. They want Highlands County engineers to come up with a solution to potentially dredge those areas.

But County Engineer Ramon Gavarrete says county flood mitigation would likely only go so far with the problem near Russell.

"It just so happens that this area seems to be one of the lowest areas in the immediate surroundings," Gavarrete said. "There's only so much the dirt, the soil can take. Once the soils get saturated it takes a while for the water to evaporate or seep into the groundwater."

He also says there are rules to follow before county workers can step on private property.

"Unfortunately the laws and rules are such that county government, equipment and personnel can only go into private property if there's a state of local declaration of emergency or state declaration of emergency," he said. "You only can do that if there's certain levels of damages that have to rise and then there's a declaration of emergency put in."

But neighbors feel like someone could step in.

"I think people are really passing the buck," said Rick Shorrock, who lives down the street from Russell. "This is supposed to be America and people shouldn't have to live like this, no matter what their income bracket."

Neighbors say they've exhausted every outlet, including the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

SFWMD confirmed their regulation staff have investigated the flooding complaints.

"There are no District related permits associated with the homes impacted, as the permitting of single-family homes is handled by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection," said Terri Behling, a spokeswoman for SFWMD. "The District would not be a lead agency in permitting any flooding solutions. If Highlands County wanted to do some drainage improvements within the County's right-of-way or roadways near the homes, we would work with the County on the appropriate authorizations."

For now, Russell feels trapped and is searching for any answer. She is working with a flood insurance agent who she hopes can convince engineers they could help.

"Red Cross said they would put us up for three days but what are we going to do after three days," she said. "If my flood insurance would fix up the house - I would not have the heart to sell it to anybody, my worst enemy; I would not sell it to them."

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