LAKE PLACID - Crews have pumped more than 4 million gallons of stormwater from the low-lying streets of Highlands Park Estates, but more keeps rising from underground, county commissioners were told Tuesday. Flooded residents have accepted Red Cross help, others have temporarily moved, and one family has returned to Ohio. "And it hasn't rained all week," Commissioner Ron Handley said Tuesday. The last rainfall recorded was an inch from Sept. 24-26. "We've already seen four to five days without rain," Road and Bridge Supervisor Kyle Green said.
"How long do we intend to continue?" Handley asked. "If it continues to rain, are we going to have pumps set up there indefinitely? What's the short long-range plan?" County Engineer Ramon Gavarrete presented a spreadsheet showing rainfall and pumping from Sept. 19 through the morning of Oct. 1. Floodwaters have declined by 3.4 inches on Washington Boulevard and 6.53 inches at Bottlebrush and Sabal. "We should keep pumping. We started pumping on Sept. 26. We ran the pump for 49 hours. We estimate 1,500 gallons per minute, so 4.4 million gallons," Green said. "We pumped down 49 inches, net," from Monte Delaney's pond, Gavarrete said. "Why do I say 'net?' We're actually pumping a lot more than that. From 2 to 2.5 feet of groundwater comes back up every day." More than 42 inches of water have flooded the neighborhood this year, according to Gavarrete's spreadsheet. However, groundwater is also flowing from the sands of the higher Lake Wales Ridge and into the lower-lying Lake Istokpoga neighborhood. Additionally, a few of the houses have been built below the water table. Commissioners talked about, but did not vote on whether to install longer-range solutions. Crews did dig for a culvert under Washington, but did not find one. "We dug down four feet," Green said. He concluded that the culvert may have been removed, but it made more sense to him that it was never there. Although commissioners voted 4-0 to continue pumping, Handley couldn't see how pumping would solve the problem. "Sixty thousand lot owners, and we're spending their money on two streets. I just don't see an end to this." Affected streets include Ixora and Goldbud. Green said his crews had spend about $2,000 through Monday. "The cost, overall, is not significant." "We should stay with the plan," Commissioner Chair Jack Richie recommended. Since commissioners have already capped expenditures at $30,000, that will last until the next meeting on Oct. 15. After receiving permission Tuesday to continue pumping, the commissioners eventually agreed to set up detour signs and move one of the two pumps to Washington. Helen Obenchain, president of Highlands Park Estates neighborhood association, agreed with the $30,000 limit, however, saying they can't resurface flooded streets. Leila Currence, general manager of Residence Inn Marriott, was appointed to replace Sherry Bartley, general manager of LaQuinta Inn, who resigned from the Tourism Development Commission. Currence's term will end on May 2, 2015. Commissioners encouraged the other candidate, Bill Brantley, owner of Lakeshore Resort in Lake Placid, to reapply. Donald Wallen was appointed to represent Lake Placid and Robin Carney to represent Sebring for three-year terms on the Veterans Advisory Board. firstname.lastname@example.org 863-386-5828