Flooding problems in Manatee County blamed on new construction

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Bob Labranche dripped with sweat Tuesday morning as he ran a shop vac on the floors of his home in the Centre Lake subdivision in Manatee County.  

Labranche was in his home Saturday night when the flood water started to enter his neighborhood.

He grabbed clothing, his wife took the family dog, and they waded out of the neighborhood in waist-deep water.

Seven inches of water entered his home, ruining furniture, walls and other belongings.

“Basically, just the water level rose here until ultimately, it came in through the sides, through the doors. There was no stopping it,” said Labranche.

Across the street, his neighbor had similar problems.

Kelli Wayne is the HOA President and said they warned Manatee County officials about the potential of trouble more than two years ago, when new homes were being constructed nearby.

“We watched them, everyday we’d come home from work and there would be more and more, just huge piles of dirt that they were bringing in to raise that land,” said Wayne.

Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino is aware of the issue and has spoken to many homeowners in the development about their concerns.

“When we sandwich these new communities in next to existing communities and you build up the new community, on a big rain, it’s going to have a negative effect on it’s neighbors,” said DiSabatino.

The commissioner says developers are only obligated to build new homes to existing code, but given the scope of the problems it may be time to re-write the rules.

“I don’t want to do anymore on my watch and hopefully we can learn from this,” said DiSabatino.

Follow Jeff Patterson on Facebook

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