Island Park residents say more needs to be done to prevent Ten Mile Canal flooding

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Ten Mile Canal
Ten Mile Canal in south Fort Myers. (Credit: WINK News)

Five years ago, people living in Island Park in south Fort Myers had to deal with flooding after days of rainfall. Some areas logged about 30 feet of rain before Hurricane Irma hit, making things worse.

Fast forward to 2022, the county has dredged part of Ten Mile Canal to help alleviate any future flooding, but neighbors don’t think that’s enough to prevent another flooding disaster.

Ten Mile Canal flooding. (Credit: WINK News)

Records also show that the canal was never finished back in the 1970s. Plans were made to deepen and widen the canal, but crews ended up hitting rock and just stopped the work.

Now, 40-50 years later, people who live nearby fear that with the water this high, they’re one hard rain away from more flooding.

In August 2017, Island Park Road could have been called the Island Park canal.

“The water was up above my axles on the car driving up Island Park Road,” said Ted Ehrlich, of south Fort Myers.

Ten Mile Canal flooding. (Credit: WINK News)

Ehrlich remembers the flooding like it was yesterday. He lost power, but some of his neighbors lost everything.

“So many people along the road had been flooded on both sides because of the water overflowing this thing called Ten Mile Canal,” said Ehrlich.

In the years since the water filled roadways and homes, Lee County dredged out sediment,
installed surface water measuring tools, and developed what is now called the southern Lee County flood mitigation plan.

That plan is a study that outlines conceptual projects and their potential to mitigate flooding.

Ehrlich said more must be done because the flood waters keep coming.

“They did dredging here between here and 41, which is about half a mile down this way but beyond 41, nothing has changed,” said Ehrlich. “It’s not enough.”

Fears for the next flood are only growing bigger. “Our roads are flooded all the time, and a lot of other people between here and they’re very much danger all the time,” Ehrlich said.

When the flooding first happened, Ehrlich got the community together, and they hired an engineer to take a look at the flooding issue so they could push Lee County into finally making repairs. They say it has been easier said than done.

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