Central Florida cities work to keep raw sewage off the streets after Hurricane Irma

by: Samantha Manning Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Flooding and power outages caused by Hurricane Irma in Central Florida are creating a smelly, dangerous issue for many cities as raw sewage discharges become more serious.

Winter Park resident Rae Connelly said the raw sewage started to flow once the power went out during the storm.

“We saw water bubbling up from the manholes,” Connelly said. “I have a couple (of) dogs, so I’m not letting them out and (I’m) trying to keep them away from anything, because they see puddles and they want to play. And I don’t want them in that.”

In Orange County, officials said Lake Formosa and Lake Rowena in Orlando were polluted when a private lift station failed. 

The city sent out an alert warning people about possible elevated amounts of fecal bacteria in the lakes’ water because of sewage overflow.

Channel 9 learned that lift stations aren't being powered by generators around the clock.

Winter Park officials said Thursday that residents should avoid standing water and limit water use since the city is rotating generators every six to eight hours to power 17 lift stations.

Winter Park resident Larry Gray said he has seen children walking and riding bikes through raw sewage in the Woodside Village neighborhood.

"I made up these signs ... that just say 'raw sewage,'" Gray said. "Something needs to be done to really make sure it doesn't happen again."

Boating, swimming and fishing have been banned at area lakes.

Residents said they haven't seen raw sewage seep into streets since Hurricane Charley hit in 2004

On Monday, the Orlando Utilities Commission said backwash filters at the Eastern Water Reclamation Facility on Alafaya Trail overflowed into the plant’s sanitary sewer system.

The sewer system has since been washed down, OUC officials said.

Connelly just hopes that the overflow is cleaned up quickly.

“It’s been very frustrating,” she said.