Okeechobee County woman started a petition to stop overflowing canals

The rain stayed away Friday in Okeechobee County. However, many people are still dealing with overflowing canals and ditches at their houses.

"The water is not going away and every time it rains it comes toward the house and it takes days to recede," says resident Melissa Edwards.

The water in the canal at her home on 17th avenue isn't moving.

"Somebody needs to do something about this," says Edwards.

That's why she started a petition.

"I have 175 (signatures)," says Edwards.

She wants Okeechobee County or the state to take action.

"Fix the drainage problem," says Edwards.

But it's not that easy.  Okeechobee County commissioner Bryant Culpepper says the problem is an old one.

"We have to go back and address what hasn't been done for the last 40 years," says Culpepper.

Culpepper says they need to open more canals and clear out ditches but that takes manpower and money.  He says the county's Road Department has lost half its workers in the past 10 years because of budget cuts. 

"It's not gonna be done overnight," says Culpepper, "It's gonna take time."

Culpepper says many neighborhoods are built on uneven ground.

"So you've got all these culverts at different elevations and that's what's causing a lot of the standing water," says Culpepper.

Culpepper says they have to watch how fast they allow the water to drain.

"All the way into the city we've had complete washouts of culverts and driveways because of the velocity of the water," says Culpepper.

Culpepper has asked the county to hold a town hall meeting for residents to offer information and and offer help.  He says the county has cleared about 16 miles of ditches in the past two years.


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