Owner watches the pond rising

Lake resident Dave Iannone owns a retirement home that is threatened by water.

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Ramsey Campbell
Published August 12, 2005


For the past few weeks, Dave Iannone has watched helplessly as the water rose dangerously from a pond behind his home in northwest Lake County.

Rains this summer have saturated the soil, and the water from the pond has slowly risen past his gazebo, into his screened-in porch and under his home.

Seeking help weeks ago, he called the Lake County Commission, the county Health Department and the St. Johns River Water Management District. Nobody offered any answers.

He still can't find assistance, even though the water is in his home.

"Initially, the response was to wait and it would go down, but of course it didn't," said Iannone, a retired Mount Dora businessman. "I've called everywhere for help. But they seem to say it is my problem."

The owners of Sunlake Estates, the gated, 400-unit manufactured-home subdivision where Iannone and his wife live, said there is little they can do.


His home is in a low spot around a small lake that serves as a retention pond to collect stormwater runoff in the subdivision. The water from the lake has backed up into Iannone's backyard for the past month and is now under his house.

"It's an act of God," said Linda Meade, regional manager for American Land Lease, which owns the subdivision off County Road 452, a few miles south of the Marion County line.

She said the rains have saturated the soil in the area, making it difficult for water in the lake to drain. She said if they tried to pump it higher, it would only flow back on Iannone's property. Because the water table is so high in the area, there really is no place to pump it.

Meade said insurance should cover the damage to Iannone's house.

Iannone said he doesn't have flood insurance because he didn't realize he was in a flood zone. "No one told me," he said.

When he bought the home five years ago, the retention pond behind it was dry enough to walk across.

John Harmon, Sunlake homeowners association president, said the group has been trying to get help for Iannone and a couple of other nearby homeowners who may be affected by the rising water.

The problem has been made worse by a failing sewage lift station that is in the flooded area. Harmon said the sewage treatment system could be overloaded if floodwater goes into the lift station.

"Nobody wants to do anything," Harmon said. "We're just hoping it doesn't rain any more."

That's unlikely. Florida gets the bulk of its rain in the summer, and this year has been unusually wet.

Jim Stivender, Lake County Public Works director, said the excessive rains have triggered similar flooding concerns in isolated areas around the county.

He said the county is pumping water around a home in the Lake Clair area in south Lake County, and around homes in Lake Mack in north Lake County.

He said both areas have caused concern during high water in the past.

In rare cases, county officials have considered buying out homeowners in flood-prone areas.

Stivender said the past four years have been relatively wet for Central Florida, adding that Florida goes through wet-weather cycles every 20 years or so.

In the meantime, Iannone has had to shut off his air conditioning because of waterlogged ductwork under his house.

He said he may have to arrange to sleep in a nearby snowbird's home temporarily . . . and then look for a lawyer.


So much for homeowners' associations protecting your property values.

What excuse is that: "It's an act of God!" 

I'm trying to find out why God is being blamed for the flooding of the home?
Did he build the subdivision?

Did he engineer the retention pond? 

Did he sell the homeowner the house for good profit?
After thinking about it long and hard (just kidding!), I had to answer all these questions with "NO"! Meaning the problem of the flooding can't be explained as an "Act of God!"

Florida is well known for the hurricanes and for heavy rains! This can't always be used as an excuse! How about "An Act of Greed?"