Flooding at Quail Run in Naples
Heavy rains bring flooding.
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NORTH NAPLES — Foot-deep water remained along Karen Drive on Thursday evening, though little rain had fallen during the day.
A yellow sign warned drivers the East Naples road remains submerged from the last storm.
“I think this is the worst it’s been,” said Ben Wilson, who has lived at the corner of Karen and Bayshore drives for the past two years.
Heavy rains have left some streets in Collier County neighborhoods under water, and county growth management officials said they have targeted dozens of areas that have recently flooded or experienced standing water in recent weeks.
Between Wednesday night and Thursday, the county identified flooding in four areas — Pine Ridge Estates, Forest Lakes, Quail Run and Golden Gate — and received more than 40 requests for road maintenance crews to respond to flood-related issues.
“It is a 25-year rain event,” said Connie Deane, a county government spokeswoman. “We have had an excessive amount of rain this rainy season, 60 percent more than normal, and Southwest Florida and Collier County is a very low-lying area. It takes a while (for the water) to dissipate.”
For Wilson, the rain has been a constant problem this summer, flooding his street and yard with each downpour and taking days to dry out.
“If someone gives me a ride, they drop me off at the top of the street and I get out, take my shoes off and walk through it,” he said.
Evelyn Rivera, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said the agency received reports of flooding in the Naples area Tuesday.
“We got a lot of flooding because the storms developed and they didn’t move,” she said. “They stayed there for hours.”
According to the South Florida Water Management District, 2.94 inches of rain fell in Naples during a 24-hour period ending early Thursday. Some parts of Collier County had about a quarter-inch of rain in the same time period.
County crews have been checking roadside swales to make sure nothing is blocking them and drainage systems are in working order, Deane said.
But with this much rain and standing water, there isn’t more the county’s stormwater system can do, she said.
“The system, just like churches, aren’t built for Easter Sunday and Christmas morning,” she said. “When you get something out of the ordinary, it tends to put extra stress on the system.”
But that isn’t a good enough answer for some residents who have been trudging through water just to get out of their community.
Cars inched their way out of the Quail Run community Thursday morning. Between 3 and 4½ inches of water covered some parts of the road.
Tom Howard, who lives in Mira Vista, said there’s been flooding for months now. His street hasn’t been flooded, but he said he doesn’t understand why officials aren’t making efforts to maintain the streets in his neighborhood.
“It doesn’t seem right,” he said. “They don’t maintain it.”
Forest Lakes Boulevard is one of the streets county officials have heard the most gripes about. Forest Lakes residents have formed a municipal services taxing unit, or MSTU, to handle drainage issues.
The drainage system has been inspected to make sure “all culverts and drain pipes are clear of debris and functioning as designed,” Darryl Richard, the county’s MSTU project manager, said in a written statement.
“The challenge that we have in the Forest Lakes community is that it was built at a lower elevation and will continue to have flooding risks in the event of excessive rainfall,” he said. “Regardless, the MSTU is working with its consultant(s) in reviewing the stormwater system on an ongoing basis and continues to do whatever recommended projects that can be performed to increase the capacity of the system.”
That doesn’t satisfy Howard, who said he doesn’t drive his car down Forest Lakes Boulevard when the water is high.
“It’s really a hazard,” he said. “It’s unsafe.”
Flood-like conditions have occurred mostly west of Interstate 75, according to maps of recently flooded areas provided to the Daily News by county officials.
Mark Teaters, past president of the Homeowners Association of Golden Gate Estates, said he hasn’t seen much flooding in the Estates this year. Teaters, who lives on Wilson Boulevard, said there was about 6 inches of water in his front yard when he got home Wednesday night, but by Thursday morning it was gone.
Still, Teaters said the ground “is pretty soaked” and most of the canals in the Estates neighborhoods are full.
Flooding hasn’t been a problem for Marco Island, said Tim Pinter, the city’s public works director, noting that maintenance crews have been regularly cleaning the inlets and grates of debris.
Crews in Naples have been doing the same, but Gregg Strakaluse, the city’s streets and stormwater director, said some streets have flooded.
“There’s nowhere for the water to go except in the stormwater system,” he said. “If there’s no capacity, it’s up to the system to take it.”
Deane said road maintenance crews will continue to respond to flooding complaints, but that residents should be prepared for the long haul.
“It’s just Mother Nature,” she said.
Reported flooding in Collier County
For more information about flooding on roadways: http://www.colliergov.net/Index.aspx?page=508
For the 2013 Collier Emergency Management Hazard Guide: http://www.colliergov.net/index.aspx?page=2422
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