New Smyrna Beach holds emergency meeting ahead of hurricane season

Engineering firm evaluated regulations and maintenance practices

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Dozens of people living in New Smyrna Beach gathered on Tuesday for an important discussion ahead of the 2023 hurricane season.

Last year, Hurricane Ian dumped more than 20 inches of rain on the coastal community, leaving many homes and businesses underwater.

Now, with just days to go before the start of the hurricane season, neighbors are hearing the findings of a months-long flooding study.

Mayor Fred Cleveland said this issue has been the city’s main focus, adding that the findings will help them prevent what happened during Hurricane Ian from happening again.

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Meanwhile, Brett Cunningham and his team at Jones Edmund and Associates — an engineering firm — were hired by the city for $58,000 to conduct the study, which evaluated storm water regulations, maintenance practices and the impact of recent construction.

“We were really trying to answer the questions of what happened during (the hurricane), of why did it happen and how can it be prevented or mitigated,” Cunningham said.

The firm presented rainfall statistics and analyzed what difference wetlands, ditch maintenance and other developments could have made in the extreme flooding.

Officials also approved a six-month development moratorium. Cleveland said the results were surprising.

“If our storm system was working perfectly, if our canals were working perfectly, would that have prevented the flooding we saw? And the answer is, ‘No,’” Cleveland said. “That was flooding of epic proportion.”

The flooding study is nearly completed, and an action plan by the city is set to come at a later date. However, Cleveland said the city already has projects in the works based on last year’s findings.

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About the Author:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.