Engineering firm presents findings of New Smyrna Beach flooding study from Hurricane Ian

An engineering firm hired by the City of New Smyrna Beach presented its findings Tuesday afternoon after a months-long flooding study.

The briefing happened inside the Brannon Civic Center where residents packed a room to learn more about Hurricane Ian's impact on the city's stormwater drainage system.

"We basically knew that what we were fighting here is ‘Mother Nature’ at its worst," resident John Vazquez said.

The storm dropped about 20 inches of rain in 24 hours while six to seven feet of storm surge prevented that stormwater from draining into the Indian River and the ocean. Over a thousand homes flooded, and some areas remained underwater for days.

"The perfect storm, all the wrong things happened at the right time," Vazquez said.

The study from Jones Edmund found there may not be much the city can do to protect areas closest to the coast other than raising homes, for example. It also found that areas outside the Venetian Bay and Coastal Woods developments would've flooded the same way, regardless if those developments existed. 

"This is the most important day the city has had this year, actually, since Hurricane Ian and Nicole," Mayor Fred Cleveland said.

City staff will take all this information and come up with an action plan, the mayor says, to determine what the city *can do to prepare for another storm like Ian to strike. That plan is expected to be presented to the city commission in a month.

"The residents here are very concerned, as are we, with what we can do in the future, why this happened to us and what do we do next," Cleveland said.

While the study was underway, the city put a pause on new residential developments of 10 acres or more in certain sections. That pause will be lifted at the end of June. 

A copy of Tuesday evening's presentation and the full report will be posted on the city's website