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Floods swamp Loxahatchee properties, devastate turtle nests at animal sanctuary


By Joel Lopez

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    LOXAHATCHEE, Florida (WPTV) — Residents in Loxahatchee are asking for help after they said a long stretch of rain and disruption to water flow has left their properties flooded.

“We don’t have designated swales and pipes like a neighborhood would, but it’s drained for 25 years,” John Wayne of Loxahatchee said. “So, it all finds its way down the easement, the low spots, gets out back underneath the power lines and it’s good.”

“This flooding, is it normal?” asked WPTV reporter Joel Lopez to Wayne.

“No, this is like after we have a hurricane, and this has been like this for over two weeks,” Wayne said. “There’s more rain every day, and it gets higher every day.”

He said the area is the path for a natural flow of water, but he said other neighbors have tried to block it from going through their lots, diverting it to other properties like his and roads.

“I’m worried about my septic tank working … mosquitoes. It’s stagnant,” Wayne said. “The roads are impassable, they’re underwater. It’s not safe for anybody. If there’s an emergency, they’re going to have a problem getting back here to it.”

Across the road is the Prehistoric Preserve, a private animal sanctuary.

“We have ring-tailed lemurs, African porcupines, hundreds of endangered species of turtles and tortoises,” Hillary Dupont, the co-owner of the Prehistoric Preserve. “My main concern is the animals drinking the water and getting sick and dying from it.”

She estimates the flooding has caused more than $100,000 in damages from repairs, veterinarian bills and the loss of animals.

“It’s devastating. I [lost] every baby tortoise this year. I’ll have no babies from this year,” Dupont said. “Their species will not continue on. I have one species here. They only lay one egg a year and everything I’ve worked hard towards to saving this species is lost.”

WPTV contacted Palm Beach County District 6 Commissioner Sara Baxter who sent this statement:

“Our engagement with county administration aims to fully assess the situation and recommend the proper changes to the Commission. I will be the first to say that there exists a clear line between unnecessary regulation and rules that uphold our public safety. I will be monitoring the situation to work for a solution and mitigate tragedy in our neighborhoods.” Dupont said time is of the essence as she said she will have to evacuate her animals if the pond near her property breaches.

“We need help. We’re crying. I’m begging for help for them to drain us,” Dupont said. “That’s the only way to help us is to get us drainage because it’s impacting our health, and it’s impacting lives.”

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