By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Homebuyers often assume that when they buy a home in a new subdivision, it’s unlikely to flood.
But there’s increasing evidence that new construction isn’t floodproof.
Pace residents look for answers on stormwater drainage issues in Ashley Plantation
Anne Delaney, Pensacola News Journal Published 6:06 a.m. CT Sept. 28, 2018 | Updated 6:22 a.m. CT Sept. 28, 2018
Flooding in a small area of a large Pace subdivision captured the attention of the Santa Rosa County Commissioners on Thursday, after hearing requests for help from Ashley Plantation residents.
The heart of the issue is that in certain spots near Tulip Hill Road, the installed drainage system is not standing up to torrential rains — such as with Tropical Storm Gordon — in the approximately 10-year-old subdivision with 479 homes off Quintette Road.
After about three years of flooding issues, and multiple attempts to resolve the problems themselves, five Ashley Plantation residents appeared before the County Commission to find out what the county can do to help.
Santa Rosa County Director of Public Works Stephen Furman said the area was not susceptible to this type of overwash before the homes were built. Furman said he understands the residents’ concerns over a matter that Ashley Plantation Homeowners Association board member Rodney Sutton called “emotional.”
Sutton added in his remarks to the board that the HOA is willing to be a financial partner with the county to come up with a solution. Sutton said the HOA board hired an engineer to look at the flooding and to make suggestions, and it doesn’t want everything to come down on the county.
The photo above shows how streets flood in portions of Ashley Plantation subdivision when it rains. According to homeowners, this problem has persisted for three years, despite the fact that Ashley Plantation is in its final phase of development by D.R. Horton.
While Santa Rosa County will address public retention ponds and storm water pipes, private HOAs will be expected to share the cost of retrofits to their old and not-so-old stormwater drainage infrastructure.
And the problem isn’t isolated to Ashley Plantation.
A quick internet search reveals several previous reports of flooding in surrounding Pace neighborhoods. WEEK IN REVIEW: Several Santa Rosa homes flooded (June 9, 2017)
Other Pace communities affected by floods in June 2017 include Thousand Oaks and Tiburon East. On Belvedere Circle in the latter subdivision, homes also sustained flood damage, not just the streets. In the following article, the reader learns that flooding problems go back at least a decade.
Frustrated homeowners blame overdevelopment, and its increased stormwater runoff, for the flooding.
Pace residents want solutions after heavy flooding damages homes
Anne Delaney, email@example.com Published 2:37 p.m. CT June 19, 2017 | Updated 5:20 p.m. CT June 19, 2017
With hurricane season underway and a tropical system in the forecast for the next few days, several residents addressed Santa Rosa County commissioners on Monday about flooding earlier this month that in some cases destroyed their homes.
“Everything in the house was wet or was ruined,” said John Mahoney, who lives on Belvedere Circle in Pace, of the flooding overnight on June 6.
Mahoney, his wife and 2-year-old daughter remain displaced from their home in a neighborhood where several homeowners suffered damage from heavy rains that dropped about a foot of rain in the county over 12 hours.
The Mahoneys, who moved into the house in February, are now staying with neighbors, and there is no timetable for their return.
Santa Rosa County Commissioner Sam Parker, who represents the Pace area, said the county is “working on solutions” to alleviate flooding. He said he’d like all efforts to be implemented within 30 days.
Santa Rosa County Director of Public Works Stephen Furman said the rain and flooding that hit the Pace area earlier this month came on the heels of other significant periods of rainfall. Furman said swamps and retention ponds in the area did not have a chance to empty out, and the ground was saturated.
Sheridan Drive resident Fredrick Bradley said the severe flooding has been an ongoing issue in the area for more than a decade. He said the area is growing faster than its infrastructure.
“This is a problem of overbuilding and faulty watershed run-off,” said Bradley, referring to water running from one property to another. “The county is responsible for the water, and they’re shirking their responsibility.”
Bradley said he has not yet determined the amount of damage to his home after the flood.
“I think they need to re-evaluate the whole drainage system that’s in this area,” he said.
Read more (video):
More than one year ago, homeowners from Pea Ridge and Metron Estates also flooded the County Commission with complaints. (Pun intended) Their homes were especially hard hit. But commissioners opted to spend $3.1 million to retrofit storm drainage in newer, larger, and more affluent subdivisions such as Tiburon and Pace Patriot.
At the time, there was talk of buying a few of the older homes with values below $150,000.
Pace residents make plea to commissioners over flooding concerns
by David Gonzalez Tuesday, July 25th 2017, WEAR TV
PACE, Fla. (WEAR) — Pace residents who experienced severe flooding in June went before county commissioners on Monday afternoon pleading for a solution.
Santa Rosa County commissioners promised to work harder to fix the flooding problems after hearing more than two hours of passionate testimony from residents.
However, some residents said that’s not enough.
Commissioners pledged to have county staff look into funding sources for an immediate fix, but that doesn’t include all areas affected by flood waters.
Nicole McDonald, a Pea Ridge resident who attended the meeting, made an emotional plea to commissioners.
“Please think about us. Over 25 homes have flooded. I can’t sleep at night when it rains,” McDonald said.
Neighborhoods like Metron Estates have been hit hard by rising flood waters.
In addition, Vicki Tormey has lived on Gregg Avenue since 2006.
Tormey said, “The water is so strong coming from that back corner that we actually had to build trenches to hopefully divert it away from my house.”
County commissioners will move forward with immediate stormwater drainage relief in the Tiburon and Pace Patriot estates because of county resources in that area like police and fire.
They’ll allocate $3.1 million dollars from the capital reserve fund to retrofit those areas.
Read more (video):
It’s important to note that none of these homes are on or even near the beach. Storm surge is not an issue for these residents. However, the proximity of Pace to the Escambia Bay ensures a high water table and challenging conditions for controlling the flow of storm water.
Over the decades, as each subdivision has been developed, a stormwater management plan has been approved by Santa Rosa County. During that time, standards for prevention of flooding and erosion have changed substantially.
The problem is, standards for older subdivisions did not account for thousands of new homes in the future. According to one report, the “population jumped from 7,393 in 2000 to more than 21,000 in 2015, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.”
Even in more recent developments, old methods of predicting the flow of storm water are proving to be obsolete.
The bottom line: as more land that is clear cut and developed with dense single family home development, there is less land surface to absorb rain water. Santa Rosa County, as well as private homeowners associations, will continue to play a game of “catch up,” as they spend millions upgrading their storm water infrastructure.