ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A rogue chunk of carpet sitting on I-4 blocked a drainage area, causing a section of the road to flood near the Fairbanks curve.
Cellphone video taken by Channel 9’s Field Sutton showed the moment heavy rain caused the road, which is in the throes of the I-4 Ultimate project, to disappear in rising flood waters that seemed to come out of nowhere.
Drivers hit the brakes as emergency crews blocked off lanes to help people avoid the mess.
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A day later, there was still mud and standing water on the side of the road between Fairbanks Avenue and Princeton Street.
An FDOT spokesperson told Channel 9 Monday that a piece of carpeting on the road blocked a drainage area, and that crews had already been through that area clearing away debris in anticipation of Sunday’s storms.
People who live near I-4 are concerned about what might happen if a bigger storm, like a hurricane, rolled through the region.
Jennifer Lawder has seen some of the water from I-4 come down into her street just off the interstate.
“I’m afraid that eventually we’ll have so much water, like if that hurricane would have come towards us,” Lawder said. “We’ll have it from both sides.”
Sunday’s flooding was not the first time that runoff from I-4 roadwork flooding the interstate. In July, Channel 9 learned the contractor was penalized for closing off lanes for a flooding event in March and three more in May.
Channel 9 asked the state Monday if the contractor will face the same penalties.
“FDOT and the contractor are examining how to increase the frequency of debris and trash pickup, or what enhancements can be made to drainage inlets in this area to make them less susceptible to debris/trash blockage,” said FDOT Jessica Ottaviano in an emailed statement. “No determination has been made as to whether FDOT will assess noncompliance points.”
FDOT said the elevated roadway was not a contributing factor in Sunday’s flooding.
The I-4 Ultimate project is supposed to be finished some time in 2021.
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