Orange County approves $200,000 study into Gotha flooding problems

Survey will take nine months to complete

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – New paperwork shows plans for a consultant, hired by the Orange County Public Works Department, to collect data and investigate causes for repeated flooding problems in the Gotha neighborhood.

The survey is expected to closely examine possible factors contributing to the flooding, including recent construction done over time, as well as projects by the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, and the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

It will also prepare a Watershed Management Plan Update for the Gotha Lakes Watershed Study area, which includes Lake Nally, Lake Fischer, Mills Pond, Lake Hugh and Gotha Pond.

News 6 first detailed the problem nearly two months ago, as residents blame the flooding on new nearby housing developments and even interstate expansion.

Stacey DeHart and her husband created the website to showcase the ongoing problems. Several neighbors have already been forced out of their homes due to flooding. "We didn't create this issue. We didn't create this problem and we need help," she said.

DeHart recently had asphalt poured on her driveway to make it a little bit higher, as Lake Nally began to swallow much of it.

"[The driveway] was pretty much impassable due to the height of the water," she said. "It's sad to still live in fear of our home flooding."

Camp Ithiel on nearby Lake Fischer has been around since the 1940s. But its only been the past few years where this Christian camp for children has watched as water swallowed up three acres of their property.

"If we lose our buildings, we lose our ministry - that's critical to us," camp director Michael Neff said. "We obviously have a long term problem, but we need short term solutions."

Last month, locals made their push to county leaders.

This new survey is expected to take nine months to complete.

"It's a glimmer of hope," Neff said.

It's a small, slow step in the right direction, said DeHart.

"It's not personal, we're just literally trying to save our home," she said. "Nine months is forever."

The study should be completed by August 2020, and will include monthly updates to the county until then.

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