Orange County sees $172M in damages so far, flooding affecting assessments

Contractors began removing debris Wednesday

Orange County sustained an official rain total of 16 inches from Hurricane Ian, covering roadways and invading some homes and apartment complexes.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – So far, Orange County is looking at nearly $200 million in damages because of Hurricane Ian, and that number could go up.

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County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado said her team was working through hundreds of data points to help assess the damage, but still had some accessibility issues, especially because of flooding.

Orange County sustained an official rain total of 16 inches from Hurricane Ian, covering roadways and invading some homes and apartment complexes as county firefighters reported performing more than 1,700 rescues as of Saturday.

“As of (Thursday), noon, $172 million in estimated damages, 1,000 data points have been verified and 200 to go,” Mercado said.

One shelter remains open at South Econ Recreation Center, run by the American Red Cross, with 116 people and 26 pets staying there. Demings said a number of social service agencies were working to get the people there a place to stay and other services.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings tied the unprecedented flooding seen in the area to the strengthening of storms around the world, and said that while they were working on dealing with infrastructure issues, especially in the Orlovista area, they couldn’t have prepared for the flooding they had.

“We’re talking about a hurricane, once in a 500-year phenomenon that we’re dealing with,” Demings said. “So there’s no system that would have been adequate to deal with the amount of rainfall that we saw at one time here.”

Demings said more permanent solutions to flooding in Orlovista will also likely take a few years to implement.

“So we want to do the best that we can do,” Demings said. “I’m not here to make excuses about why we are where we are today, because I’ve said before, and I will say it again, we stand with every one of those residents, in Orlovista, in Arden Villas, in Cypress Landing, Bonneville, and in those other areas that were disproportionately impacted, to do the best that we can do with the resources that we have.”

Demings says debris removal began Wednesday in the Orlovista area, and it will take an estimated six weeks to remove storm debris from the entire county, including yard waste, household items and furniture.

Demings said the county on Wednesday had deposited 6,000 tons of garbage and yard waste at the county’s landfills.

Demings said it was receiving help from state and federal services, but the county was doing a good job of handling disaster relief and recovery on its own.

“I’m just glad we have a county leadership group, across all disciplines, that is ready and able to take care of the people of Orange County,” Demings said.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.