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PUNTA GORDA | Residents pushing for flooding fix

Posted at 12:04 PM, Sep 16, 2023

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Hurricane Idalia flooded many parts of Southwest Florida. Punta Gorda's historic district is on that list, and now people who live in the city are pushing for changes to their drainage system.

Charles Polk lives in Punta Gorda. He says downtown drains first and the east and west sides of the city's center drain last.

"After the hurricane [Idalia], we didn't drain till about 18 hours after downtown drained," Polk said.

Polk and his family, alongside their neighbors, could not get in and out of their homes because the streets looked like this:


Polk believes thinks the city is responsible for slow drainage. He says it's all gotten worse with changes to Gilchrist park made last year.

"You can see they added all the parking, parallel to Retta Esplanade, there are some swells there but they just don't seem like they were adequate," Polk said.

Fox 4 reached out to the city regarding the issue and got the following statement:

"The recent work in Gilchrist Park has not impacted the flooding of residential streets. Residents have also inquired about past work that was done in the Historic District to assist with drainage. There was indeed a storm water system upgrade to allow the system to work more efficiently during regular rainfall events. The system works more efficiently than the previous conveyance in times when water levels in the harbor are below outfall pipes, allowing drainage to occur."

But Polk says he is speaking up for the homes in his neighborhood.

"The city is contending, I guess that the work we did in the park didn't hurt anything, but anyone knows when you add more impervious area to the park, it's not going to drain as well. So where's it going to drain? Into the historic district," Polk said.

He says he wishes to see more swales added to the area, pushing faster drainage.