ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Some residents in the Orlo Vista community in Orange County have made it back into their homes on Monday following Hurricane Ian, but those homes are uninhabitable.
One resident is so angry they spray-painted “Thanks Orange County” on the side of their home sarcastically because they believe the county failed them.
Orlo Vista sits south of Colonial Drive between Hiawassee and Kirkman roads. Hurricane Ian isn’t the first time that flooding has taken over the area.
Channel 9 went inside homes of residents who had lived there for decades. One person was wearing a mask because of a smell coming from their home they couldn’t identify.
Others have stacked what they could on top of beds, largely unsuccessful because the water was just that high.
“They knew this was going to happen, but they didn’t care about us,” resident Betty Banks said.
Five years ago, Hurricane Irma caused massive flooding in Orlo Vista. 9 Investigates obtained a copy of a planned flood mitigation project that was only approved this year. It increases the capacity of the three retention ponds, making them deeper.
However, that work isn’t scheduled to start until next month.
Channel 9 reached out to Orange County Public Works about the time it has taken to make improvements in the neighborhood, but was told all questions should be directed to Mayor Jerry Demings.
Last Friday, Demings said, “Have we done enough over time to address the infrastructure needs? No. We’re going to step this up a bit because I think the people out there, they deserve that. It’s a costly fix.”
The plans outline the $10 million project that will be funded with a mix of county and federal funds. But that means nothing to those who have lost everything and now have nowhere else to go.
“I raised my kids here, I bough the home when I was 24,” said Kontara Sanders. “Now I’m 44 and it was supposed to be an investment.”
Those who may be able to restore their homes and remain in Orlo Vista question whether it’ll be a sure fix.
The county will still be limited on how much of the water can be sent to Shingle Creek.
“Right now, we are devastated, we are hurt, we are angry,” Banks said.
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