City, State working to address poor drainage in Bonita Springs

Posted at 7:06 PM, Sep 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-22 07:21:24-04

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla., - Parts of Bonita Springs are still underwater, now more than a week after Hurricane Irma. Hundreds of homes have been damaged because of the water, many destroyed.

 “We just moved in,” said Aldemar Solarte, a Bonita Springs resident. “10 days after, we had the hurricane so we had to leave the house.” 

Solarte lives in one of the many homes badly damaged by flooding. “When i got into the house, there was water in the house - probably 6 or 7 inches of water. There were frogs swimming inside the house and fish.”

It’s a sight they could never imagine for their new home.  “It’s horrible when you walk inside your house. I thought I was going to lose everything,” he said.

11 days later, the water is finally gone, but the smell lingers. Aldemar’s son Cristian compares it to ‘living in the sewer.’

“We’re here because I have no place to go but I don’t think it’s the healthiest thing in the world,” said Solarte.

Standing water is still an issue for many homes in this neighborhood. Nearly a thousand homes have been declared unlivable in Bonita Springs.

“Some of these neighborhoods that have 5 feet of water inside their house deserve better and we’re gonna work through that but that will be a long term process,” said Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Simmons.

Simmons said in the short term, the South Florida Water Management District is diverting backlogged water south from the Imperial River to alleviate the issue but says the process takes time.

“People have to be patient. We’re all in this together. As we say, #BonitaStrong. We’re pretty resilient and we’re pulling together.”

PHOTOS: Flooding in Bonita Springs from Hurricane Irma

A spokesperson with Governor Rick Scott’s office sent 4 In Your Corner the following statement.

"Since declaring a state of emergency in response to Hurricane Irma on September 4th, Governor Scott has been in constant communication with federal, state and local partners on storm preparedness and response, including flooding effects in Lee County and across the state. He will continue to work with the water management districts, FDOT and DEP to do everything possible to address flooding impacts in every community."