Longwood residents forced to use sandbags due to storm water backup problems

A neighborhood in Longwood is dealing with water drainage issues so bad that the county has had to come in and drop off sandbags so residents have the means to protect their homes from damage. 

Sally Spires, who has lived in the community since 2008 says it is a recent issue. She said, "The only time other than recently that there was flooding was during a hurricane."

Spires goes on to say, "It would rain, but it would dissipate after a reasonable period of time. Now it rains and it sits there. The water does not drain out of the roadways, and it goes into the yards."

One woman is at the center of controversy in the neighborhood. She says she filled the storm water drain on her private property with concrete, plugging it up. 

"I filled in the two manholes and that broken pipe because I didn't want any more erosion on my property, said the homeowner who did not want to share her name. 

As to how she made this discovery, she said, "My neighbor was cutting my grass, his leg went through the ground. I previously was having a lot of erosion, sinkholes."

She says excess water has been a problem before she filled in the drain on her property.

She shared photos with FOX 35 dated August 9, 2020, showing water backing up on her property. 

Fast forward to 2024, she plugged the drain up on April 23. She let her close neighbors know she would be doing this by placing a letter on their doors. 

She said, "It was an ongoing problem, not because of me, not because of this drainage system, but because they have a poor, not coded drainage system in the community."

Neighbors are concerned water continues to build up. 

Spires said, "We're all worried that the water is going to come up because it's building and it's not draining. It has nowhere to go. It has no drainage whatsoever. Now it has to just get reabsorbed, and it's taking a very long time to do that."

The homeowner's association for the community has been fielding a number of complaints about water issues, said member Robin Rodriguez. 

"We have been transparent with everybody about what's going on and will continue to be out. We engage our residents, and we ask them to raise these concerns to elected officials and to government officials," Rodriguez said. 

Spires said, "Nobody wants to help us. They just say, 'Oh, well, it's either it's private property or we have no jurisdiction.' But, the pipe was put in here when the community was developed. It had to be approved by somebody. It can't just not be, somebody's responsibility to ensure that a community has proper drainage."

In a statement sent to FOX 35 Seminole County said:

Seminole County is currently investigating all options with the HOA to bring the project to code. In the meantime, we have provided sandbags to the community. Ultimately, this is a private property/roadway and the County is not responsible for funding the repairs required to remedy the situation.