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Heavy rains batter Lehigh Acres, force leaders to move water in canals

During past three days, Lehigh Acres got a foot of rain. People say these conditions remind them of Ian and Irma.
Posted at 8:11 PM, Jun 13, 2024

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — Cars waded through small waves on the road as they approached the intersection of Sunshine and Lee Boulevard.

Something Antonio Avila hasn't seen in years.

"Probably since Ian. Ian and Irma," he said.

Avila works at a body shop on Sunshine Boulevard, and the past two days he's seen cars try to make it through deep water flooding the street. At times, he even saw cars hydroplane.

"When cars hit it, it leaves wakes going across," and he added, "Seeing that nobody slows down in these conditions, it's a recipe for disaster."

WATCH: Heavy rains batter Lehigh Acres, force leaders to move water in canals

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District manages the 311 miles of canals in the area.

Like Avila, they haven't seen this much rain in Lehigh for a while.

"Irma was the last time we've really been in this type of situation where we are concerned and trying to move water around to protect the people who are inside of Lehigh Acres," LAMSID Director Dave Lindsay said.

They said they rarely move water in the canals, but their system tells them when it's time, and with all this rain, they moved water from western canals to eastern ones.

"It's pretty much just a blip on the radar the small stuff," Lindsay said about this time of year's summer afternoon showers.

Until, they saw a significant spike in the canal's water levels from all the recent rain.

Drivers and anyone else in Lehigh could spot the rain flooding side streets and parts of Lee and Sunshine Blvd.

Lindsay recommended, "Don't be out on the roads if you don't have to be."

He also suggested to stay out of the flood waters in case there's contamination.

"A lot of people drive recklessly out here, like no sense of concern for other people's safety especially in these conditions," Avila said.

LAMSID said the rain from the roads will run off into the canals soon, but in the meantime they said stay inside for your own safety.