KISSIMMEE, Fla. — After Hurricane Irma, about 350 people lost their homes at an elderly housing complex in Kissimmee because of flooding. But a $50 million project would help make sure that won’t happen again.

  • Good Samaritan Society Village in Kissimmee damaged by Irma
  • Around 350 residents were affected by the damages
  • Good Samaritan now wants to elevate 87 buildings

Annamae and Bob Lawson can just roll into their home now using their golf carts — something they couldn’t do a year and a half ago.

Their home at the Good Samaritan Society Kissimmee Village was hit hard in September 2017. The village endured $35 million in damages after Hurricane Irma.

With all the storm water, Shingle Creek next door crested pushing in black water filled with sewage and chemicals throughout the campus. Their home was totally destroyed, along with 350 other residents.

The village gave the Lawson’s temporary housing at no cost for about a year while their unit was being renovated.

“The staff became family,” Annamae said. “When you have support you can get through anything.”

Good Samaritan now wants to elevate 87 buildings, which is about 261 apartment units, to prevent something like this from happening again. It would be a $50 million project. The Village is asking for help from FEMA grants and state appropriations.

“Don’t think coastal homes. They are erected walls with penetrations in them that the units would be set down back on,” said Mark Barglof, Executive Director for Good Samaritan Society Kissimmee Village. “And flood waters would be able to pass underneath the homes, so it’s more sophisticated than just stilts.”

On March 21, the Lawsons celebrated their 60th anniversary together in the place they call home.

“(Bob) wanted the same place, and they made it possible, so that's why we're here now in this home, and we hope to stay forever,” Annamae said.