For more than a dozen hurricane seasons, including 2004 and 2005, a protective berm kept water from flooding homes in a Holiday neighborhood.
Homes along Eastwood Lane and Cantrell Streets sit a few feet below a parking lot behind a strip mall. But Tropical Storm Debby dumped a huge volume of rain on the berm.
Then more heavy rain fell, and the berm collapsed.
"We have a mess," Dennis Rausch explained. He is the property manager for the strip mall. The mess ended up inside three homes, including Cindy Morrison's house.
"It's devastating. I'm real emotional," he said.
When the berm broke, it sent three feet of water and mud into several homes.
"The water started coming in the dining room, and then we noticed it coming in my office," said Jim McNulty, who lives two doors south of Morrison.
The force behind the water was so strong it broke a concrete wall that supported the berm. Ellis and Company, the firm that manages the strip mall, is helping all the people who had water in their homes. It's paying to move them out and paying the hotel bills for at least two families.
Rausch said he even picked up part of the hotel tab on his own credit card. In the meantime, the company is trying to determined why the berm failed. Rausch theorizes recent work on U.S. 19 may be to blame.
"I think all the work that was done, the Florida Department of Transportation has actually messed up our outfall system and is trapping our water and making it flow backwards," Rausch said.
Kris Carson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation, told FOX 13 engineers never redirect water. In the meantime, Morrison said she's not sure when she can come home.
"I don't know what we're doing, with this like this it's just going to happen again."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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