(WSVN) – Rainy season can be miserable for South Florida homeowners. That’s especially true in parts of Fort Lauderdale. 7’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.
At first, Kettra Ferda loved the home she bought in Fort Lauderdale’s Middle River Terrace neighborhood.
Kettra Ferda, homeowner: “I wanted to have just a place of my own, and I just said, ‘I think this is it.’”
But that all changed after the first heavy rain.
When Hurricane Eta hit in 2020, she watched as the area around her house filled with water, and her home became an island.
Kettra Ferda: “We had to evacuate the house because water was getting as high as our electrical outlets. I didn’t realize it was going to come up through the tubs, the sinks, the toilets.”
In the two years she has lived here, Kettra says this stretch of Northeast 14th Street has been underwater three times. It gets so deep, cars make wakes when they drive by.
Kettra Ferda: “Shut the door, shut the door!”
The floodwater has done damage.
Kettra Ferda: “Over there, we still haven’t quite gotten the baseboards in.”
And no amount of preparation can help.
Kettra Ferda: “Usually, when these flooding events happen, I’m on the phone with the city begging them to come out with a truck to come pump us out.”
Across the street, Larry Lemke’s pool and deck have been damaged by the flooding.
Larry Lemke: “The flooding does not stop. It’s a mess, and it destroys the deck, as the deck sinks.”
He says the nearby storm drain cannot handle the amount of water that collects here.
Larry Lemke: “It’s a 5-foot sewer. It cannot maintain the amount of water that comes in, so the water that would come in would come well above my knees.”
Neighborhood flooding is not a new problem in Fort Lauderdale. In 2018, the city invested $200 million in stormwater projects.
But none of that money went to stop flooding in Middle River Terrace.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis: “The 2018 master plan identified seven neighborhoods.”
This map shows the seven Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods chosen for the first phase. Later, seven more neighborhoods were added.
Mayor Dean Trantalis: “We cannot rebuild Fort Lauderdale. We’ve identified the most crucial areas, the hot-button places.”
We asked Mayor Dean Trantalis why neither hot-button area includes Middle River Terrace.
Mayor Dean Trantalis: “As bad as that looks, there are neighborhoods that are worse. Middle River Terrace clearly is a problem, and we have tried to address certain areas that are most crucial to us.”
But the city says it is working on smaller projects in this neighborhood and others to try and improve drainage.
Dr. Nancy Gassman, Assistant Public Works Director: “We spend about $1.4 million a year on about 30 additional projects, what I would call street level projects, to try to improve the drainage in individual streets.”
But residents here are afraid the smaller fixes won’t be enough.
Larry Lemke: “Help us. We all need help.”
Kettra Ferda: “I love my neighborhood. I love my community, but there’s only so much a woman can take.”
Especially during hurricane season, when those flooding fears rise as high as this water.
Kevin Ozebek, 7News.
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