Sunday, March 3

Weather damages property along Lake Worth Lagoon

People living off the Lake Worth Beach lagoon said the weather left some of their property damaged Thursday night.

“His is the heaviest wind we’ve had since I’ve lived here in two and a half years,” Perry Reinstein said. “I didn’t expect this, who told us there was a hurricane coming in?”

Reinstein, who lives down 18

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Avenue South, told WPTV reporter Joel Lopez that the strong waves shoved his jet skis off his dock and he had to dive in after them. He said they got scuff marks from bumping into each other.

“You’re still in your wetsuit, so what were you doing out there?” asked Lopez.

“I was pulling them in pulling them getting them back out on the docks, strapping them down because we’re going have wind for another two days,” Reinstein said.

He even saw a boat that was taken by the waves.

“It floated by, hit my neighbor’s dock and rested there for a little while and right now I think it’s by the apartment building over by the sea wall,” Reinstein said.

He lives next door to Carlos Ramirez who said the road floods in a flash.

“You have sandbags, is that part of your Christmas decorations?” asked Lopez.

“They have to stay there,” Ramirez said. “It could be high tide or king tide and you have to be proactive.”

The area is expecting four to five inches of rain and wind speeds of around 45mph.

The city said they’ve been clearing drains in problem areas and will have emergency staff, generators and mobile pumps on standby going into weekend.

“How easily do these roads flood?” asked Lopez.

“I was at my neighbor’s house and it started pouring and I looked at my ring camera and within 10 minutes it was halfway up my driveway,” answered Ramirez.

The city has invested $1.5 million on a drainage project to flush the water out from 18

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Avenue South.

“I’m looking for $1.7million dollars for the next five years, for storm water projects that we know that we have coming up that we have to deal with due to sea level rise,” Sam Heady, the utility director with the city of Lake Worth Beach, said. “We know that we’re going to have a problem ,so we’re trying to get ahead of it before it happens.”

Heady said the contractor has been mobilized and started preparing the lot on 18

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Avenue South to install a 12-inch discharge pipe that will be 3-feet underground.

One of many projects Mayor Betty Resch said won’t be impacted as they search for their next city manager.

“Lake Worth is a very resilient city, and as far as the city manager is concerned, as far as the flooding is concerned, we’re good, we’re good,” Resch said.

Resch was not in favor of firing former City Manager Carmen Davis.

“I think it’s a terrible loss to the city and I’m very sad about it. I think that she should’ve been given more directives and given a chance to improve,” Resch said. “I think it’s a very brutal way to handle a dedicated employee.”

Resch said they’re working on hiring a recruiter and will be launching a national search for the next city manager.

Public Works Director Jamie Brown is serving as the interim city manager who has been with the city for almost 13 years.

“Luckily this isn’t our first rodeo, we know the hot spots in the city that we need to address before the storm comes while the storm is here and afterwards so we’re going to be well prepared,” said Brown.

Brown said heavy swells and strong winds make it dangerous for the pier to be open as it could be damaged, forcing officials to close it for a second day in row.

“We close the pier for safety reasons, we have panels that basically go all the way out to the end of pier, we pop all those out cause usually they end up in the Boynton Inlet,” said Brown.

Brown said the weather may force them to cancel Friday night’s bonfire event as the beach has seen erosion.

“Palm Beach County Fire requires 50-feet of beach in order to have an event, we currently have 15 feet from the dune then we have an 8 foot drop off and then we have about 40 feet coming from the actual sea wall itself, so the beach is quickly eroding at the moment,” Brown said.

He said the beach naturally will regenerate and are looking into resiliency projects in the next budget.

The city said once the storms have passed, they will inspect the pier for damage and will reopen once it’s safe to do so.

When asked if he see’s himself applying for the city manager position, Brown said he’s focused on forward momentum.

“Right now I’m just looking forward to keeping everything moving forward and we have a long project ahead of us.,” he said. “Unfortunate situation but we have to keep moving forward.”

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