ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Cleanup efforts continue in the Orlo Vista community in west Orange County more than a week after Hurricane Ian struck Florida.
Pat Munnerlyn and her family have spent their time hauling out everything inside their home on Ronnie Circle.
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“It just looks like a dump,” Munnerlyn said. “That’s all stuff that belongs in a dump now.”
Many families like Munnerlyn’s have stacked their belongings in piles, their lives laid out on the front lawn after their homes were severely damaged by floodwaters.
Munnerlyn said water rose over 40 inches throughout her house. What’s left behind will be ripped out and replaced.
“I can’t even think about it because I’ll start crying,” Munnerlyn said. “I lost my husband one year ago to the day that Ian hit. What I have left of his, we lost.”
Families in Orlo Vista shared their loss and concerns. Many said their homes flooded after Hurricane Irma in 2017 — and now again after Hurricane Ian. Some residents voiced their frustrations firsthand at an Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday,
“I want to know so that my 4-year-old granddaughter will stop asking, ‘Nana, is your house floating away?’ I need to know what’s going to be done for my community,” one woman said.
Plans to improve the stormwater system were made after Hurricane Irma hit. The county said construction costs now exceed the funding they secured.
“The bids came in twice over $20 million. We got secured at $10 million,” County Administrator Byron Brooks said.
Beyond the price, there are also questions about the plans themselves. Are they adequate if another storm comes?
“Just to put things in relationship, I think we were able to handle somewhere 8 inches to 9 inches of rain event. This last storm we got 13+ inches,” Joseph Kunkel, director of the public works department, said.
The Public Works Department said some homes would still experience some flooding on the west side even with more capacity to take on more rain. The plans put in place after 2017 include expanding a retention pond in the area.
“Who’s to blame is a complex response,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said. “What we have to wrestle with is the decisions that we make and how we make them going forward.”
Orange County’s plan moving forward is to fall back with FEMA and see if they can get some additional funding based on the construction costs. Once funds are secured, they can move forward with the project.
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