- Alexandra Seltzer Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Kenny Jn Louis’ father called her early Sunday morning to warn her that she wouldn’t be able to make it home from work because rain from Tropical Storm Philippe had flooded her Boynton Beach neighborhood street just west of Interstate 95.
When the 20-year-old got off from working at a nursing home, she saw it for herself.
“I had to park all the way over on the next street and walk to my house,” she said. “I’m 5-feet tall. The water was to my thighs.”
Jn Louis, a student at Palm Beach State College, had to stay home from work and school Monday because she couldn’t drive through the water outside her home on Southwest Fourth Avenue. The water also went into the garage. Several of the surrounding streets in this Lake Boynton Estates community are also flooded and some residents, like Jn Louis, might have to manage water damage without flood insurance.
The neighborhoods aren’t in a flood zone.
City crews worked through the weekend with the Florida Department of Transportation to determine what caused the flooding. Usually, the streets drain into a retention pond owned by the city that connects to a ditch owned by FDOT. Crews found two blockages in the ditch from vegetation and another blockage from a temporary road constructed by a contractor with FDOT, created for the Interstate 95 and Woolbright Road interchange project, said Colin Groff, an assistant city manager.
“All city-owned storm water systems are functioning properly,” Groff said.
Because there was blockage in the ditch, the pond backed up, causing the flooding. Groff said the blockages at the FDOT ditch were likely caused by trees downed from storms and lack of maintenance.
Residents said the area has flooded years ago, but they’ve never seen the rain accumulate like this.
Groff couldn’t give an estimate of when all the water should recede. However, water levels — which reached between 2 and 3 feet — was starting to recede late Monday afternoon.
Commissioner Christina Romelus, whose district includes these neighborhoods, spent Monday in the neighborhoods speaking to residents.
“These are the results of government not stepping up and doing their job when it needs to be done,” she said. “I will not let this go unnoticed. We will resolve this issue.”
Collette Burgess decided to travel around Monday in the Transit XLT van she uses for work at a drug and alcohol treatment center. Burgess, her two daughters and three grandchildren piled into the van to run errands because their cars wouldn’t have been able to get through the streets.
Burgess, who lives on Southwest Fourth Avenue, said water is up to her ankles in the garage.
Resident Matt Burger woke up Monday morning thinking the streets had to have been cleared. Instead, they looked about the same as the weekend flooding.
“Sunday morning I woke up and it looked like a lake in front of my house,” said Burger who lives on Southwest Sixth Street.
Burger’s escape route was across his front lawn because the water in the street was too deep.
“I had to drive across my front lawn again and my car started sinking into my lawn,” he said. “So I’ve got deep tire tracks pushed into my lawn.”
Still, Burger said it could have been worse.
“There’s not any damage but if Irma had happened like it did on the west coast I’m sure my house would have been full of water,” he said. “If Irma’s west side had hit us it would be a complete catastrophe.”