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The way Charlotte County was developed, drainage issues may never be resolved

"We’re not ever going to improve it and to answer your other question what do we do, we’re constantly out there doing drainage maintenance year-round."
Posted at 10:53 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 05:58:15-04

PUNTA GORDA, Fla.  — Although Punta Gorda in Charlotte County may not have gotten as much rain as Cape Coral on Sunday, the county does struggle with drainage.

City leaders say fixing the issue may not be an option.

John Elias, the Director for Charlotte County Public Works says Charlotte County was designed with an open swale system many years ago, which means all that water is conveyed right onto an open area which is right next to the road.

"Our whole entire drainage system was designed for a five-year storm, if we get more, give or take five inches of rain, over a 24-hour period, the water will exceed the capacity of what the swales can handle and you might have water up on a sidewalk or on a road," Elias said.

Elias says that in catastrophic situations, the road is the secondary drainage system so that water doesn’t go into your home.

While the city receives thousands of drainage requests a year, "We have residents saying they’ve got a drainage problem," Elias says they don't necessarily consider flooding.

"We acknowledge that you have water in your swale, but a flooding problem to us, will be if you have water getting ready to enter your house."

Elias, who has worked for the county for over 30 years, says he's only seen flood damage to a home, three times, and two of those times, it was the same home.

Flooding is said to usually happen when someone has blocked their own drainage.

Punta Gorda has received about 13.5 inches of rainfall this month, that’s about five inches more than a typical June in Punta Gorda.

"We’re not ever going to improve it and to answer your other question what do we do, we’re constantly out there doing drainage maintenance year-round," Elias said they will address the pipe and swale issues as they come up.

The county accepts drainage requests 24 hours a day through the app. Elias also says if you have water getting ready to enter your home, he says some will be there within an hour.

"That hardly ever happens," Elias said about home flooding, "But that's the commitment we have, we're sending people out there as fast as we can because something then has gone drastically wrong."

It’s not uncommon to have water in your swale for up to 72 hours after a rain event. It could just mean that there is a drainage problem Elias says.

That 72 hours, isn't after all events, " You can call us any time and we'll respond, but a lot of times people think that they shouldn't have any water and that's not uncommon here," said Elias.

If the water doesn't subside after those 72 hours then you may want to call the county.