Ormond Beach community pleads for funding to elevate homes

Volusia County identifies 77 homes at risk of repetitive flooding

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Three weeks after Hurricane Ian hit, neighbors in one Volusia County community pleaded for federal help to elevate their homes to avert more flooding.

“This is my fifth time flooding,” said Jeremy Ianarelli, who lives along the Tomoka River in Ormond Beach. “This time was uncontrollable, and I had three pumps running in here. I had about a 12-to-14-inch difference from in the house, but then, I just couldn’t control it after I got over that.”

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“The flood happened two weeks ago, and we’re still scrubbing things out,” neighbor Cyndi Patterson said.

She said Hurricane Irma flooded her home in 2017.

“Our insurance rates go up, and we’re punished time and again because of where we live,” she said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives surveyed Ianarelli’s home for possible federal assistance with repairs, but both he and Patterson said they need more than that.

They have both used Volusia County’s help to apply for highly-competitive FEMA flood mitigation grants to elevate their home to avoid floodwaters, but they have both been denied more than once.

A News 6 investigation shows Volusia County has submitted applications to elevate 11 homes on their street alone.

Floodwaters rose at least one foot inside Paula Heiret's home in Ormond Beach after Hurricane Ian. (Courtesy: Paula Heiret) (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Only a few, such as the home across from Patterson’s home, have been approved.

“We asked for help. We filled out the form several years in a row,” Patterson said. “One year, we did get approved at the state level, and then we were rejected.”

Volusia County has several neighborhoods in the same situation.

According to the county’s Local Mitigation Strategy Plan, at least 77 homes have been identified as “repetitive loss properties.”

Ormond Beach is home to 24 of those.

According to the document, the county told FEMA, “Without mitigation, these properties will likely continue to experience flood losses.”

According to data from FEMA, Florida has been awarded grants to elevate 273 homes since 1995.

Volusia County accounted for 14 of those grants.

“It was bad,” Paula Heiret said.

Heiret also lives along the Tomoka River in Ormond Beach and she said for the first time, she will now apply to elevate her home.

“We either apply and get FEMA assistance to go up and raise the house, or get a loan, or go. I can’t go through this again.”

Volusia County leaders repeated to News 6 that these grants are highly competitive, but they are working to make sure residents’ applications stand out.

“The grant application process is extensive, and it will likely require multiple resource areas to ensure our approach meets reviewers’ appeal,” Volusia County spokesman Kevin Captain said. “We are presently awaiting State guidance on the flood mitigation grants, and we are hopeful to have more information in the coming weeks.”

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About the Author

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

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