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Orange County prepares flood-prone areas, Orlovista for Idalia

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings speaks at press conference
Orange TV
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings ensures constituents that flood-prone areas are being made more resilient against heavy rains at a press conference in Orlando on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. He said workers in Orlovista removed over 150 cubic yards of debris from last year's storm and made retention ponds deeper to hold more water and prevent devastating overflow.

At a press conference Monday, Orange County leaders announced they are preparing for Tropical Storm Idalia, including areas damaged last year by Hurricane Ian.

One such area is the flood-prone neighborhood of Orlovista, which is still cleaning up debris left over from Hurricane Ian last year.

Over 100 Orlovista homes were devastated by rising waters brought on by three surrounding retention ponds that overflowed with the heavy rains in September of 2022.

As Idalia approaches, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said efforts over the weekend were focused to prepare the neighborhood to receive another storm, but the work is not yet done.

“Work is continuing on the multimillion dollar long-range project to prevent flooding from occurring in the Orlovista area. The retention ponds will be deeper and able to receive more water as the storm is approaching,” he said.

According to Demings, while Orange County is only expected to receive minimal effects from the storms, Orlovista is in better conditions now to receive Idalia than it was this time last year for Ian. He said workers were able to clear out 150 - 200 cubic yards of debris on Saturday.

The National Weather Service estimates the area will get around two to four inches of rain over the next five days — far less than the rainfall totals from Hurricane Ian.

In June, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed funding earmarked for flood prevention in Central Florida, which included a $2 million proposal to relieve Orlovista.

The project would have made the neighborhood more resilient to flooding by using excess waters from the landlocked basin for irrigation or aquifer recharge, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

County leaders said that losing the funds for the Orlovista Integrated Water Resources Project would not stop them from taking care of it.

“We remain committed to making certain that we mitigate any potential for flooding in that area,” Demings said.

Idalia is expected to make landfall in Florida's west coast Wednesday, as a Category 3 hurricane.

Lillian Hernández Caraballo is a Report for America corps member.

Lillian (Lilly) Hernández Caraballo is a bilingual, multimedia journalist covering housing and homelessness for Central Florida Public Media, as a Report for America corps member.
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