Lutz neighbors blame county for flooding and drainage

Since a sports complext went in nearby, they claim they've been flooded twice.

Robert Morrow's house got flooded after heavy rain

LUTZ, FL (WFLA) – People living in a Lutz neighborhood blame their flooding on an elevated sports complex Hillsborough county built a few years ago.

“You have one thing change, and now you’ve had two floods in a matter of three years, it’s pretty self explanatory,” homeowner Robert Morrow said.

Morrow has lived in the 5th Street South West neighborhood near Lake Cooper for more than 30 years.  He claims since the county built the Oscar Cooler sports complex that consists of several playing fields, the neighborhood has flooded twice.

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Robert Morrow’s home

“I’ve lived in this area for 30 years.  We’ve experience hurricanes, we’ve experienced large amounts of rain, the water never got to a level to where it was overflowing the roads in this capacity at all,” he said.

The water not only flooded the road, it has engulfed his house, forcing him and his family to seek shelter elsewhere.  As you walk across his master bedroom, water squishes from the carpet.  A puddle in the master bathroom continues growing.  The walls are soaking up the water and the smell of mold is nearly overwhelming.

“I feel helpless, there’s nothing I can do,” homeowner Kelly Peak said.

She moved out of her house over the weekend.  Water surrounded then invaded her her master bedroom, the foyer, her living room, the laundry room and back patio. Water is five inches in her garage.

‘It’s disgusting to think that your have, the septic tanks, and the wells and who knows what else in the water, but fish floating around in your house, it’s gross,” she said.

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Kelly Peak’s garage

Around the corner, 18 inches of water sit in a house that was renovated just a year ago. Not a half mile away as the crow flies sits the Oscar Cooler complex, high and dry.  It replaced nearly 30 acres of orange groves and swamps.

“That’s all gone, now it’s elevated with a sand base sports field,” neighbor Scott Hand complained. “They’ve elevated those swamps that used to be over there.”

Hand agrees that since the county built the sports complex, his neighborhood has flooded twice.  He contends water from drains too quickly toward the homes.

“That water over there should be over there, that’s where it was meant to be. This place can’t handle it,” he said.

Jane MacDonald, 88, watches the water inch closer to the house she’s lived in for 46 years.

“If we get a hard rain I’m going to have water,” she said.

A nearby canal that drains into Lake Cooper has overflowed its banks into her back yard, nearly up to her door.  It has flooded Robert Morrow’s home as well.

“The county used to come and clean it.  It’s supposed to drain out into the lake but it’s plugged up and they won’t get it unplugged,” MacDonald said.

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Lutz sits in Commissioner Victor Crist’s district.

“If the park is causing the problem you fix it,” Crist stated.  “There’s a level of responsibility there that, you know, we would need to go in and we would need to make the necessary storm water runoff changes to capture that water.”

Crist points out the entire area has been soaked for weeks. Since July 25, the county had received more than 788 cases involving flooding. He is not ready to lay blame for the Lutz flooding on the sports complex  and county yet, but he is ready to look into it.

“I’m not an engineer, but I’ve got enough of them on staff here that I’m going to ask them to go out there and take a look at it and see whether or not there is a level of exposure, responsibility and do our due diligence and correct it as soon as possible,” Crist added.

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