By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The City of Fort Lauderdale racked up some hefty fines after the foul-sewage leaks a year ago. Now, instead of paying a $2 million dollar fine to the state, that money will go toward stormwater projects in neighborhoods that suffered horrible flooding 3 months ago.

Nancy Long knows all too well what happens in her River Oaks neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale when we get a lot of rain. “With one day of rain it goes up to your knees, last year when we had that week of rain it was up to our waist, 3-4 feet,” Long said.

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Next door, in the Edgewood neighborhood, many here were underwater too.

“We actually had to put up dirtbags instead of sandbags just to make sure nothing was getting in,” said Edgewood Resident Faith Yusavage

Owen Gaither was trapped at home. “I wasn’t even able to leave my house for 3 days because this is my car and it would have been too deep,” he said.

Now a fix is underway and some of its being financed as the result of another flooding mess in Fort Lauderdale.

In 2019 and early 2020 pipe breaks sent raw sewage spewing into local waterways. With each gallon of waste, Fort Lauderdale racked up huge fines with the state.

Mayor Dean Trantalis says now there’s a new deal that will keep that money here.

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“Together, we were able to work out a plan, instead of spending 2.1 million dollars in fines that were are instead going spend 3.2-3.4 million toward stormwater projects,” Mayor Trantalis said. “Instead of paying a fine and putting it into the coffers of the legislature, keep it here.”

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The plan is for those projects to reduce flooding in these areas so we don’t see disasters like this after heavy rains. They also address environmental concerns too, like this new wetland area in River Oaks.

“They’re putting a stormwater preserve here with a little park walk around,” explained Long.

“What they’re going to do is put a pump station in here so when it rains the pump station is going to be connected to drains they put around our neighborhood that will pump the water out to the preserve that will filter it and out back into the river,” she said.

The two current projects in Edgewood, as well as River Oaks, should be completed within the next 3-4 years.

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Meanwhile, for those other parts of Fort Lauderdale that have some critical flooding problems the city saying, ‘Not to worry” those haven’t been forgotten, they’ll be taken care of within the next few years.

Ted Scouten