Casselberry community pushes for sea wall as Lake Kathryn erodes backyards

Resident says, ‘It’s not going to hold it after a while. That’s my fear.’

CASSELBERRY, Fla. – Residents of a Casselberry mobile home community say they are glad Hurricane Idalia spared them, but they claim erosion from other storms has caused their homes to sink.

“As you can see, the whole house – see how it’s sinking down,” Donna DeMarco said.

DeMarco lives in the Summerloch Green mobile home community in Casselberry.

She told News 6 water from Lake Kathryn, which is located right behind the mobile home she purchased, is eating away at the leased land that it sits on.

She said she has paid to have her home leveled twice.

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“Look at this. Look at the brick wall right here,” she said pointing to a crooked brick planter. “That’s where I had it leveled.”

She said the earth is also being eroded away from a dock behind her home.

“It’s not going to hold it after a while,” she said. “That’s my fear.”

Cindy Connors lives a couple doors down from DeMarco, and she said she has the same problem.

In fact, she said she cannot get approved for flood insurance because the lake is now too close to her home.

“I get terrified with the rain,” she said. “I’m constantly checking the radar, checking everything to see, you know? (I’m fearful) that I’m going to lose what little I have left.”

Connors said the property management company, Cobblestone Communities, promised to build a sea wall to protect her property.

Five years later, she is still waiting for it to be built.

News 6 investigated and found out Cobblestone has applied to the City of Casselberry three times to build it.

In 2020, the city denied their plans.

They said they wanted to know how a seal wall would be built in what has been declared a flood zone by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Connors next-door neighbors have a sea wall.

They city told News 6 they never heard back from Cobblestone, and the application expired.

In 2022, city records show Cobblestone applied again.

The city told News 6 very little was changed in the application, and it was denied again.

Again, the application expired.

Now, in July, Cobblestone submitted a third application.

A spokeswoman for the city said the application is “currently under review which includes the justification methodology in the flood study, which is standard practice. This review process may be lengthy.”

News 6 contacted Cobblestone CEO Erik Hagen, CFO Tome Tomaj and COO Jason Hagan to see what they have to say to residents as their third application is being considered.

Vice President of Operations Kim Lake responded:

“We are deeply committed to the successful completion of this project. We have been diligently working with multiple jurisdictional entities including the city of Casselberry, St. John’s and FEMA, as well as multiple consultants, vendors, engineers, and project management firms to garner a final approval to move forward with this seawall project. Work actually began at the end of July of the Island portion and is expected to be completed shortly.”

Cobblestone Vice President of Operations Kim Lake

Connors said she fears what another big storm could do.

“It’s all I’ve got. It’s all I have. This is my life, this is it,” she said. “I have to protect it, but nobody wants to do anything.”

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About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.