As hurricane season begins in Escambia County, one completed flood project shows improvement, while the slow progress of another highlights residents’ frustration.
- The good: In late May, District 4 Commissioner Robert Bender cut the ribbon on Olive Road drainage and road improvements. The $12m project took over 10 years to complete and includes two retention ponds and a 60-inch outfall pipe to reduce flooding in the area.
In District 3, recent flooding and local Flood Defenders pushed Commissioner Lumon May to demand a flood plan for protection in and around the Monarch subdivision.
- What they’re saying: “There’s no excuse that there’s no money, no time. [A plan] needs to be brought forth now,” Commissioner May said at a county meeting.
- Yes, and: In response to action by local Flood Defenders, the county enforced development rules and the developer completed a new pond that stopped runoff and drainage.
The bad: Escambia County, not the developers, still needs to address drainage issues for the Monarch subdivision and the Oakfield Acres neighborhood. The neighborhood flooded long before construction began, and while the new pond fulfills the developer’s obligation, the county will need to maintain it and improve drainage for the rest of the neighborhood.
- What experts are saying: “If pressure stops, the county could move the whole drainage project into the rest of the Carpenter Creek Basin Plan,” Chris Curb, former Escambia County stormwater manager, and Flood Defenders advisor, said. “If we keep pressure on, they will do the project in phases and work on drainage first.”
The bottom line: Flood protection has received some attention from Escambia County Commissioners, but there is still work to be done to protect residents at risk.