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Delray Beach residents call for action amid consistent flooding

Resident of Marina Historic District says temporary barriers ineffective, drains not being cleared
Posted at 7:45 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 19:45:23-05

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Some Delray Beach residents in the Marina Historic District are fed up with consistent flooding every time there is significant rainfall.

"Every year I have to replace my landscaping in the front," Genie Deponte, who has lived on Marine Way for 33 years, said. "Every year I have to replace my pool pump."

Deponte said the flood waters damage her home, her backyard and her neighbors' homes.

"My neighbor next door has flooding inside her house, into her pool, into the back," Deponte said. "It's kind of wearing us thin."

Deponte's home, built in 1960, sits right on the Intracoastal Waterway, with little protection in-between.

She said flooding has always been an issue ever since she moved in, but that it has gotten worse in recent years.

"It is becoming more and more exacerbated," Deponte said, showing WPTV where the water came up past her front door during Hurricane Nicole. "Water came all the way up to the front step."

"The house flooded underneath so the electrical shorts out," she added.

Genie Deponte concerned about flooding in Marina Historic District
Genie Deponte, who has lived on Marina Way for 33 years, says she doesn't think the city is doing enough to combat the consistent flooding in the Marina Historic District of Delray Beach.

Deponte said after the storm, she had to replace her pool pump, drain her pool of the floodwater and get her electrical unit repaired. As of Monday, Deponte still didn't have power to the front of her home restored.

"Just ongoing," she said.

Deponte said she contacted the city about the issue before and there were talks of getting a seawall put in years ago, but she hasn't seen any real action.

"We were all promised that this was in process. We looked at how the plan was going to be. We were even given a booklet showing how it was going to be, and we were all delighted and happy," she said. "Now, it's two-and-a-half years later. Let's have a sense of urgency on this neighborhood."

WPTV contacted the city. Public Works Director Missie Barletto said the city is working toward installing a seawall and the city's first stormwater pumping station west of the Intracoastal Waterway on North Marine Way.

Barletto said the project is 90% designed and is currently in the process of obtaining permits.

"Staff remains committed to completing this project," Barletto said in a written statement. "Currently we are in the process of obtaining permits from the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

Barletto said following comments from the public at the next public meeting, which will be in early 2023, the plans will be completed. Barletto hopes construction on the project will begin in October 2023. In the meantime, the city has placed removable Geotubes, or temporary water barriers, near the waterway to minimize the amount of seasonal flooding the area receives from king tides.

However, Deponte said, the tubes aren't helpful.

City of Delray Beach barricade next to Geotube in Marina Historic District
The city of Delray Beach has provided temporary relief to curtail the flooding along Marina Way, but residents think it's ineffective.

"The city has tried with the orange tubing that you see out there. I will give them credit for that," Deponte said. "However, it is not effective."

Cellphone video Deponte took and gave to WPTV shows water leaking underneath the temporary barrier, while pictures she took show it washing up in people's yards.

"It's all over the road," she said. "It looked like a giant orange python."

Deponte also said she believes there is more to the problem. For one, she said, drains need to be cleaned out, but they aren't getting cleared.

"That is something that should be routinely maintained by the city and used to be," she said.

Deponte also said two seawalls on either end of Marine Way were raised in recent years, exacerbating the flooding even more.

"It put us more into a basin," she said. "It affects the entire neighborhood."

Deponte said she understands the problem may not be easy to fix.

"We want to be cooperative, but we would like to protect our property and our homes," she said.

Deponte said it is an issue especially important for the historic homes on her street dating back to the 1920s.

"We are the Marina Historic District, but they're not protecting the historic district," Deponte said.

WPTV did ask Barletto about the drains and the raised seawalls. She did not address those in her written response.  

However, she did say that, during king tide events, water can flow back through the stormwater outfall pipes and into the street. Currently, she said, these outfalls have old back flow protection devices installed that require replacement. The city has received a Resilient Florida grant to replace or install a different type of back flow prevention device at every outfall in the city during the coming year.

Marine Way outfalls will be among the first to be replaced.