ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Nearly ten months after Hurricane Irma swept through Central Florida, people living in Orange County’s Orlovista community are still repairing their homes.
- Residents in Orlovista still repairing homes from last year
- Many who live in the area did not have flood insurance
- Residents are outside FEMA's designated flood zone
- Orange Co. conducting study to change designation.
Julius Amos has lived in the neighborhood for 26 years. Never before has his home flooded -- until Irma.
“It destroyed everything I had except for one TV and some clothes,” Amos said. “I had 28 inches (of flood water) inside of my house.”
The storm knocked out power to the pump station at a nearby lake, allowing floodwaters to breach the normal banks and flow into homes several blocks wide.
The National Guard evacuated Amos, his wife, and more than 100 of their neighbors during the height of the storm.
Insurance adjusters told Amos that his homeowner’s policy did not include flood coverage, meaning the longtime resident would have to bear the responsibility of fixing the estimated $60,000 in damages.
The remnants of the costly repairs remain. Amos says there are at least 10 vacant homes on his block.
“Folks can’t afford to remodel or fix them,” Amos said. “They just left them.”
Most who live in the area did not have flood insurance because it is technically outside of a FEMA designated flood zone.
Orange County says it is now studying the issue in an effort to change the designation.
“Orange County Stormwater Management continues to do its due diligence with FEMA to help the residents of Westside Manor by working to change its FEMA floodplain map status,” a statement read. “Based on our consultant’s study on the pumps in the area, and additional survey data currently being collected, we are submitting a request to FEMA to include Westside Manor in its updated floodplain map.”
The statement continued with, “We are in the early stages of this process and it is an extensive endeavor that can take up to a year or longer. Stormwater also plans to mail an informational brochure on flood risks to the Westside Manor residents.”
Which flood zone you live in can be on factor for the cost for an insurance policy through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Those in high-risk area, or those with mortgages, are often required to obtain separate flood insurance, as flood damage is not usually covered in a homeowner’s or rental insurance policy.
FEMA is currently adjusting flood zone maps.
According to Margaret Cottrill with FEMA, there is a small map study underway in Orange County. In Brevard County, there is a new preliminary study underway for coastal area, but the last map change went into effect in Aug. 2017.
FEMA paid out nearly $1 billion in claims to policyholders after Hurricane Irma. Orange County Property Appraiser’s Office estimates the same storm caused nearly $51 million in damage to homes and businesses in Orange County.
While some people are required to obtain flood insurance, it is available to anyone. New policies do not go into effect for 30 days.