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County Officials Took Property To Save Houses

(CN) - A Florida landowner suffered inverse condemnation when Walton County officials diverted water across her property in an attempt to save other houses from flooding, a Florida appeals court ruled.

In 1995 and 2005, county officials redirected water to Cozette Drake's property. It was the second time the county took such an action, as the first time was in response to Hurricane Opal in 1995.

The diversion remains in place, but county officials said the diversion restored the natural flow of water across the land from before the plaintiff's family bought the land in 1992.

The trial court ruled that because the county was responding to an emergency, it did not unlawfully take Drake's property.

Judge Thomas disagreed.

 Hurricane Opal did not flood the appellant's property, Thomas wrote. It was the county's action in response to the hurricane that caused the flooding.

Thomas reversed and remanded to determine the value of the taking.

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