Residents blame I-4 construction for flooding neighborhood

Water flows up to homes on Midiron Drive

ORLANDO, Fla. – Residents who live beside a section of the I-4 Ultimate project blamed a new round of flooding in their neighborhood on runoff from the project.

Cellphone video from early August showed Midiron Drive covered in white-tinted water from limestone.

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The water covered Christine Tutone’s front yard.

“I was going to throw out the garbage, and I opened the door, and I see glass. It’s like glass,” she said. “I said, ‘What is this?’ I want to put one foot out, and I see it’s water. I went to get the flashlight to see what was going on, and all I could see was water all the way into the golf course, all the way into the properties. We were very nervous.”

Tutone said she feared the floodwaters were created by water running off the I-4 construction project, which is less than a block away from her home.

She said she contacted I-4 contractor SGL and the city of Orlando for help, but she did not get a response from anyone.

News 6 investigated and contacted the Florida Department of Transportation.

Spokeswoman Jessica Ottaviano said, “I-4 Ultimate crews encountered mulch, tree branches and trash blocking a drainage culvert... The Department and the project team will continue to monitor the area for potential drainage concerns as well as work with local partners to help better accommodate drainage in the area.”

Four weeks later, the floodwaters returned, covering Midiron Drive and edging close to residents’ front doors.

News 6 contacted FDOT again, which prompted another investigation.

As a result, Ottaviano said crews from FDOT and SGL will respond to the neighborhood after each heavy rain to pinpoint the cause of the new round of flooding.

Tutone is not alone.

Attorney Louiza Tarassova represents 14 families who live near the I-4 construction project and have filed lawsuits against SGL for property damage and nuisance claims.

Clients included Jenya Kimlat, a homeowner who took cellphone video of dishes vibrating from the heavy equipment.

Tarassova also represents a family who claims their home is now leaning as a result of the project.

She said she’s confident she will be able to prove cause and effect in court.

“The No. 1 piece of evidence that we have is every plaintiff is each other’s eyewitness in this story, right?” she said. “What happened to them happened to their neighbors, and they can testify on behalf of each other.”

SGL had no comment on the lawsuits pending against it.

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.