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Orlo Vista project hits milestone, major digging to wrap by hurricane season

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Approximately half of the $23 million Orange County dedicated to flood mitigation around the Orlo Vista neighborhood has been paid out as of this week, engineers reported, as they said construction remained on track.

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The project includes expanding the three retention ponds just south of SR 408 and adding upgraded drainage and pumping infrastructure.

The plan first came into focus after Hurricane Irma devastated the community. Efforts to break ground gained new urgency when Hurricane Ian again overflowed the ponds, sending feet of water into people’s homes.

In their update, engineers said substantial work for the pond expansions remains on track to be completed by the beginning of hurricane season. Work on the pumps won’t be finished, but the county will bring in temporary pumps to maximize the current system’s capacity.

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Thus far, crews have removed enough dirt from the ponds to fill 68 Olympic swimming pools.

“The County plans to meet with the construction team in the upcoming weeks to assess the overall progress of the project and discuss preparations for the 2024 hurricane season,” Chief Engineer Daniel Negron said.

Owners of previously flooded homes said they appreciated the work and didn’t mind the constant rumble of trucks if it meant protecting their homes.

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Some said they didn’t believe their homes were safe unless the land and/or houses were elevated. However, few have the money for that work – or to pay for a home elsewhere.

Orange County looked at a buyback program for homes in flood-prone areas following Ian, but it was not included in the $219 million disaster recovery program the county submitted to the federal government for review.

Instead, $108 million will be dedicated to residential rehabilitation and restoration if the plan is approved.

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