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East County Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2018 11 months ago

FEMA relief could dispel concerns in Lakewood Ranch

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Lakewood Ranch CDDs bank on erosion repairs .
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

As Rob Campbell stood along a shell pathway east of Greenbrook Adventure Park, he waved toward homes across a retention pond in the Greenbrook Vistas neighborhood and then back toward the Braden River — the view of which was obstructed by trees and other foliage.

When Hurricane Irma hit Sept. 10, 2017, water flooded the pathway, washing out more than a foot of crushed seashell and sand.

“You can’t tell, but this whole area gets scoured by the storms,” said Campbell, a landscape supervisor for the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority. “It’s a few thousand dollars every time to fix it.”

This map shows the location of proposed repairs.

Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 4 officials and IDA staff members hope to find a more permanent solution to erosion problems along the Braden River in District 4, as well as in District 1 affecting Summerfield residents.

By Aug. 2, they will submit an application for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, through which $426.6 million is available to communities throughout Florida. Hazard mitigation is action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from future

disasters, and FEMA has funding available as a result of Hurricane Irma.

According to the grant, FEMA would fund up to 75% of project costs through reimbursements, while the districts or benefiting properties would pay the rest.

If the grant is awarded, the districts would contract with Landshore Enterprises LLC to make repairs. The company evaluated the work needed as part of the grant application.

In Greenbrook, repairs would be made in three areas and total $107,300, of which CDD 4 would be responsible for $26,825. Work would include rebuilding around and reinforcing a concrete pipe from the river to a retention pond, constructing a berm along a shell pathway and reinforcing a section of riverbank where erosion is prevalent.

“I feel that the grant offers Greenbrook the opportunity to make some changes that will improve our storm readiness without incurring significant costs,” CDD 4 Supervisor Joe Sidiski said.

In CDD 1, some residents in Summerfield Bluffs have worried about erosion along the river behind their homes for years, but CDD officials have hesitated to take action. Erosion along the riverbank is a natural phenomenon, and supervisors have debated whether the district or individual homeowners would be responsible for financing any repairs behind specific homes.

During Hurricane Irma, three trees fell into the river, prompting more residents to inquire about the risk of flooding, Campbell said.

In Summerfield (District 1), repair costs total $253,000 across four repair areas. In three of the areas, the district would create a berm on its property between the riverbank and homeowners’ lots. Water would be channeled to the berm, collected there and drained through a pipe to the river at water level.

Engineers told CDD officials that erosion behind several homes in the Bluffs is being caused primarily from water runoff from the homes and properties themselves, as well as from the roadway, based on the type of erosion occurring.

At the fourth location, which is at a sharp bend in the river, contractors would install a barrier that would function much like a sea wall.

“It’s certainly an opportunity to remedy some of the problems residents are having in the Bluffs,” Campbell said. “If we can solve some of the problem, it’s definitely worth the investment.”

Campbell said if the grant applications are approved, the districts can pick and choose whether they will do some or all of the repairs. The districts will have to fund the repairs upfront and would be reimbursed by FEMA.

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