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FLOODING FIASCO: People in Harlem Heights begging for help with drainage

Posted at 7:32 AM, Jun 18, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Harlem Heights community in Fort Myers finds itself once again fighting the flooding, after last week's rain.

Harlem Heights Flooding
People in Harlem Heights neighborhood of Fort Myers say they need help to make flood water drain better

Residents like Ivonne Rivera say they spent days stranded in their homes because of the water.

"Three days only and we couldn't get into our home," Rivera said. "Imagine if another hurricane comes... So we're trying to see if anything could be done.”

FLOODING FIASCO: Drainage issues leaves Harlem Heights residents begging for help
FLOODING FIASCO: Drainage issues leaves Harlem Heights residents begging for help

A cry for help from the neighbors as they endured more than 16 inches of rain from Monday to Thursday, and a week later, water still stands in some places.

It's a reminder of what they went through a year and a half ago during Hurricane Ian.

Evelyn Roman, a longtime resident of Church Street said, "A lot of flooding. It felt like it was the same thing repeating all over again."

Harlem Heights Flooding
Flooding in Harlem Heights neighborhood of Fort Myers last week.

She points to a drainage issue that she believes no one is taking care of.

"They need to right here, where the canals are, go a little bit deeper," said Roman. "It will take at least some of the pressure off."

Fox 4's Bella Line reached out to the county about what this neighborhood is going through, they issued a statement that said in part:

"The county would like to remind residents that roadside ditches and swales...may hold water for some time after significant rain events. Lee County Natural Resources and the Lee County Department of Transportation work year-round to be prepared for excessive rain events...DOT worked to maintain drainage systems throughout last week's rainfall event to help roads remain clear."
Lee County Government

Even if infrastructure takes time to drain, it was slow enough to put Ivonne's car in danger, and she has already lost two cars to Hurricane Ian.

For Evelyn and Ivonne, the solution is simple.

"We need some help," said Rivera.