Alachua County working to solve widespread flooding issues

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GAINESVILLE Fla. (WCJB) - It's been three months since Hurricane Irma left dozens of Alachua County neighborhoods underwater, and the County is now working on solutions. Tuesday night Commissioners decided to move forward with the possibility of buying affected properties to prevent future flooding issues.

Garry Nonog hopes the County will take his flooded home off his hands.

"It's just a nightmare, to say the least," said Garry Nonog, who used to live in Robin Lane. "I do photography, and this is my home studio. Was."

In September, Hurricane Irma flooded his home, leaving his family with no other option but to find somewhere else to live.

"It's been a struggle, financially," said Nonog, whose family has been renting an apartment while still needing to pay the home's mortgage.

During the storm, the floodwaters rose so high they reached just above Nonog's mailbox, roughly four and a half feet, causing him and his family to have to canoe to and from their home.

"We're trying to make do with the best we can," Nonog said.

Now, the County is taking action. Their engineers helped compile a list of 14 flood-prone neighborhoods -- in order of priority -- with Robin Lane, Hills of Santa Fe, and Meadowbrook at the top.

"Number one: prioritize the flooded homes on the basis of the severity of damage," Commissioner Mike Byerly said to a packed room at the commission meeting Tuesday night. "And then communicate with the owners of these homes regarding their willingness to sell at appraised market value."

The County will have to decide what the best option is on a case by case basis, whether that's buying the property, installing permanent water pumps, or considering other options.

Nonog has already started putting together photos and videos to send to the commission.

"We do want to move on. We'd like closure," Nonog said. "Hopefully this buy out will go as soon as possible, because it's very stressful."

County officials say solving the issues in just the top four or five neighborhoods could cost between $2-3 million. The County plans to apply for state and federal grants to fund the projects. Engineers are also working on assessing flooded areas on the east side of County.

List of flood-prone neighborhoods ranked by priority according to Alachua County Engineer Ramon Gavarrete:

1. Robin Lane
2. Hills of Santa Fe/Meadowbrook
3. Hayes Glen
4. Pine Hill Estates
5. Oak Crest / Eagle Point & Chelsea Lane
6. Emerald Woods
7. Royal Oaks / Willow Bend
8. Sunningdale
9. Heatherwood
10. Richmond
11. Rustlewood
12. SW 91st St @ SW 12th Ave
13. NW 91st St
14. NW 39th Ave