Homeowners file class-action lawsuit against Florida city over Hurricane Ian flooding

Dozens of homeowners have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the City of Deltona over its alleged role in severe flooding following Hurricane Ian.

The plaintiffs claim Deltona officials opened a dam in an effort to protect Deltona homes, and the decision resulted in the worst flooding the Stone Island area experienced in decades. Several neighbors were stranded in their homes for weeks.

Many were brought food and other important items via canoe at the height of the flooding. Others weren’t able to return to their houses at all. There are over 40 people listed on the lawsuit, though some of them live under the same roof.

One of the lead attorneys on the case, Andrew Doyle said the plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation for what they went through. "Damage and destruction to their structures. Loss of personal property. Loss of landscaping, temporary housing. Decreased property valuation," he said.

According to the document, the water levels rose several feet over the course of a single day following the opening of the flood control. They contend the city was supposed to get approval from St. Johns Water Management District. They claim the dam was opened without that permission.

Amanda Rohr has lived in the neighborhood for about seven years. She said the flooding is typically ankle-level. Toward the end of last year, some neighbors experienced up to knee-high flooding inside their homes.

"It was terrifying to drive just to get to our house," she said. "It’s just not right for them to dump it as if we mean nothing." Rohr is not listed on the lawsuit. She said her home did not take on enough damage to constitute the legal process, though she does approve of her neighbors’ decision to step forward.

The plaintiffs are asking for an excess of $50,000 each in this case. The legal team representing them released the following statement:

"Many of the residents of Stone Island suffered catastrophic losses and damage to their homes following the City’s operation of the flood control structure with the knowledge that the water would be directed into the property of the residents of Stone Island. 

"We have seen, firsthand, the harm that the City’s decision caused. This is a tight-knit community of primarily long-term residents and the very face of their community has been changed, possibly forever. 

"In bringing this suit, we are simply asking that the City compensate the residents of Stone Island for the losses that the residents have sustained based on the City’s action. And for some, those numbers may well be significant, but decisions have consequences, even for a municipality."

A Deltona spokesperson declined to comment due to the pending litigation.