SEBRING — Hurricane Irma felled trees and dumped water in the Sun ‘n Lake Improvement District, causing damage and flooding to residences, the district’s two golf courses and drainage structures.
“There was some electrical damage to Unit 23 Waste Water Treatment Plant, where windblown rain got inside of a transformer and caused a major short,” Tanya Cannady, Sun ‘n Lake Improvement District general manager, said. “The excessive rainfall also caused the water table to increase significantly, which caused extra stress on the gravity sewer system. This created some leaks in a number of manholes, which caused a number of pot holes in the adjacent roadways.
“This elevated water table also created some potholes around various places in the district adjacent to storm water culverts,” Cannady said. “These holes were found in back yards and in roadways. We had a large number of trees fall throughout the district. Many roads were blocked by fallen limbs and fallen trees.
“We had a retention pond structure blowout, which in turn blew out the Arvida Drive culvert crossing. We also had a number of smaller drainage structures damaged that only needed minor repairs.”
Sun ‘n Lake’s golf courses were damaged by debris and flooding on the courses. The district spent $182,199.68 mending the golf courses, but it expects $157,106.91 in reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Cannady.
“Improvements and repairs were made to several of the public buildings, roadways, and sewer system as a result of the damage incurred,” Cannady said. “These repairs include roofs, culverts, fences and manhole replacements to ensure that these circumstances are mitigated for future occurrences.”
Drainage maintenance is a top priority for Sun ‘n Lake; the district has spent $300,000 to address drainage issues during the current fiscal year, and next year’s budget promises an additional $50,000.
“All maintenance and improvements are made with the intention of creating a better functioning drainage system for which the community can rely on during times when it is most needed,” Cannady said.
Sun ‘n Lake focused on providing relief to residents after Hurricane Irma, she said. The district cleared roadways of hazardous debris and opened the District Office for communication and information, even when it did not have phone and internet service restored, Cannady said.
Requests poured in from out-of-town residents to check their homes for damage, so security staff and volunteers checked homes.
Using generators, the Island View Restaurant cooked meals for residents. “Staff also worked around the clock making sure all of the water and sewer utilities were operating,” she said.
The water plant ran on diesel generator power from 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, according to Cannady.
Sun ‘n Lake has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on repairs, but only Category B- Emergency Expenses, in the amount of $75,893.06, have been reimbursed by FEMA. The emergency expenses included labor, supplies and materials that were needed to address immediate public safety concerns.
The district has reported claims for FEMA reimbursement totaling $409,084.14.