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Construction for Martin County housing development halted due to flood concerns

Willow Pointe Community causing excessive flooding to nearby homes
Posted at 6:32 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 19:17:18-05

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Construction for one of Martin County’s new housing developments has been halted for the foreseeable future due to flood concerns to surrounding homes.

Building a new community off of Kanner Highway has caused flooding at a decades old home nearby. The homeowner said she can barely live in her home anymore.

“Water just poured out of my backyard, coming in my house,” Bonnie Cook said. “I’m like screaming, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do.’”

Cook said ever since Dr. Horton started building the Willow Pointe Community next to her street, flooding has become a constant issue when it rains.

WPTV visited her home during the summer, when she had to put sandbags around her home. Her yard becomes a muddy mess and it’s only getting worse.

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“The baseboard is just kind of rotting off from the water hitting it,” she said.

Cook said mold is growing inside. She said she can’t flush her toilets or mow the lawn.

“I have to wash my face, boil water, wash my face, go to my brother’s house to shower,” she said. “I had to send my daughter to Tampa, because she has lupus.”

The county administrator said it has told Dr. Horton, the property owner and builder, to fix this problem.

“It is a legitimate issue,” Don Donaldson said.

Donaldson said in the original plans, Dr. Horton knew about the flood risk to Cook’s property and the original plan accounted for that. However, the proposed solutions in that plan, Donaldson said, aren’t working.

“The plan and the engineer suggested it had been remedied,” he said. “It’s evident that it has not.”

The higher elevation of the new development compared to Cook’s lower lying home prevents water from properly draining around her home anymore.

Cook said a new retention pond behind her home floods her yard.

“Were even and then suddenly, they’re building over me,” she said. “Water coming in my house. Coming in my backyard.”

Other homes nearby, in addition to Cook’s, have had flooded lawns.

Donaldson told WPTV this likely won’t be an outlier issue. All new construction is being built higher than older communities to account for sea level rise. And drainage in general around Martin County has been a problem.

“I can’t keep going through this, it’s about to drive me crazy,” Cook said during a commission meeting.

However this week, Cook emotionally asked the commission for help and to consider raising her home.

“They messed up,” she said. “They’re going to have to lift my house or move their stuff.”

Commissioner Ed Ciampi also said he’d also like the builder to pay for mold remediation.

Donaldson said Dr. Horton has until next week to come forward with a fix and no new permits will be issued until it is.

For Cook, any solution is overdue.

“Christmas is ruined,” she said. “Every year I have my kids, my grandkids, I cook, we have fun.”