Sanford families take first step in suing the city for Hurricane Ian damages

It’s been 104 days since Hurricane Ian hit Central Florida. On Wednesday, there are people in Sanford still out of their homes. 

We first told you about Lily Court on Halloween. The street is miles from the nearest flood zone, yet the neighborhood found itself under three feet of water. Seven families affected have sent letters of intent to the city asking for reimbursement for the damages. They claim the flooding could have been prevented. 

Many of the homes on Lily Court are still unlivable. Contractors were out at Norm Rolf’s home placing 27 jacks underneath the home. The entire home has to be lifted to repair the crumbling foundation. 

"We have to put 27 new peers under our house and seven I-beams," said Rolf. 

Inside the home, you could feel the slopes on the hardwood floor. A ball we placed on the floor in his dining room rolled quickly down the ramp in his floor and into the living room. His doorways no longer match up with his doors and all of his furniture was destroyed as it sat under a foot of water.  

"We are at approximately $145,000 in damage from everything that occurred," said Rolf. 

Down the street, Alden Bigelow has been living with family since Ian hit because his entire home is gutted. 

"Drywall had mold behind it. It all had to be torn off from the flooring all the way to the ceiling," said Bigelow. 

Not a single room in Bigelow’s house survived the storm. He has done nearly all the work himself to save money on the never-ending costs. 

"I don’t want to be underwater on a loan for a house that was underwater," said Bigelow. 

Bigelow and Rolf are two of seven people to have filed letters of intent to take legal action against the City of Sanford. 

Their letters claim that the only logical explanation for the rapid flooding was a blockage in the drainage line that they believe the city could have prevented. Each resident is asking for $200,000 in reimbursement for damages. 

At a city commission meeting on Oct. 24, the city claimed their stormwater system worked as designed. 

"There is no system that is designed for a 500-year or 1,000-years storm event. The current system is only designed for 10-years storm event and operated just fine for 10 years storm event," said Sanford Director of Public Works and Utilities Bilal Iftikhar

Although, people on Lily Court don’t believe it was an act of god. 

"Do you walk away from home and give away everything that you’ve earned in your life away or you can fight and rebuild," said Rolf. "We’re going to fight."

The city wouldn’t comment on the pending litigation but tell FOX35 they have forwarded the matter to their insurer. They are waiting for that process to play out. 

As for the residents on Lily Court, they believe it could be at least another three months before they are back home.