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New $200 million project underway in Fort Lauderdale to improve drainage systems

MIAMI - Bud Grant lives in the River Oaks neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale. 

"A couple of times I couldn't get to work because I had so much water here," Grant said.  

He shared pictures of how flooded it used to get by his house. 

He would be stranded because he couldn't drive through the flood water. 

"I got cut once or twice walking down the street to try to get somebody to pick me up," he said.

Once new pipes were laid on his street, the flooding went away. 

When the rain from Tropical Storm Eta moved through Fort Lauderdale, it highlighted just how bad flooding could be in certain parts of town.

Now, a $200 million project is underway to address our new flooding reality. 

"The goal is to, in part, adapt to climate change. There's a lot of areas that either had inadequate infrastructure or that climate change, because of sea level rise or more extreme rainfall, we now need to upgrade the Systems to protect these neighborhoods from floods," explained Dr. Nancy Gassman.  

She is the Asst. Public Works Director for the city of Fort Lauderdale.   

She explained the River Oaks and Edgewood neighborhoods are the first two to get upgrades — 5 more are on the list to round out phase one with phase two to follow. 

Dr. Gassman explained to move water out and into canals from extreme rains — the city is turning to pump stations and upgraded systems. 

"We currently have 4 pump stations in the city and we'll be adding 8 more as part of these 7 neighborhood improvements," she said.

Dr. Gassman said the goal is to stay a step ahead as we face a future that includes higher sea levels and more extreme rain storms.

"We are expected to have more and more of these extreme rainfall events where we see a 6 to 10 in rainfall event in a 24-hour period. 

Our current system is designed for about a 3-inch rainfall in a 24-hour period," Dr. Gassman said.  

Fort Lauderdale is planning to lay 19.6 miles of pipe in Phase One.  

To give you an idea of how much that is, it's just shy of the mileage between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. 

The two projects that are underway now should be complete by next fall. 

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