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Bokeelia residents concerned about flooding as overgrown swales remain neglected

Posted at 10:32 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 22:32:46-04

BOKEELIA, Fla. — Residents in Bokeelia are being left underwater thanks to a growing problem.

Swales are being left unmaintained and residents think it's time for the county to step in. Rain water is causing flooding, overrunning resident's yards.

“The problem here is that these engineered swales tend to build up with sediment," says Terry Neumann, resident of Bokeelia. "The problem right now is that they cleared them out two years ago but we’re continuing to have a problem with people who do not continue to maintain the swales by removing vegetation.”

Terry Neuman is just one of the many residents to have their yard flooded. The biggest problem, he says, is where the pipe runs beneath Barrancas Avenue and flows down between Mcneff Road. According to Lee County, that happens to be private property and can’t be accessed without individual permission from each property owner.

“That’s really where our problem lies is that we need to be able to get that ditch cleared out because it’s so growing over with vegetation right now, that we’re just not being able to get the water to drain quick enough.”

Neumann says the flooding they witnessed during Hurricane Irma doesn’t even come close to this. On Tuesday, he says they had 1.45 inches of rain- on Wednesday, 2.5 inches of rain.

“During the last hurricane we had here last month, we had 9.5 inches of rain and it was slightly worse than this," Neumann said. "But this is a lot of back up, considering we’ve only had in the past two days about 4 inches of rain.”

“I wanted a canal when I moved here to Florida, right? But I didn’t expect this," said Chuck Guthrie, another resident of Bokeelia.

Guthrie lives just a block down from Neumann. He’s been living in Bokeelia for two years. The constant flooding is even causing him a laundry list of issues. Between the mosquitoes and inability to maintain his grass, he just wants answers.

“Somebody take responsibility, that’s all I’m asking," said Guthrie. "That’s all that she’s asking and the lady over there, she’s complaining a lot and I don’t blame her. But yeah, as you can see, we got the brunt of it.”

Meanwhile, Neumann says he’s spoken with the county. They just need permission from residents to trim back the swale. He, like many others, just want to see the issue resolved before it escalates any further.

“They are in the process of notifying people but, if one person says ‘no,’ then they can’t continue and that’s a problem. We don’t really have a solution other than going to court over it, which we don’t want to do.”