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Is Tampa Safe From the Rain?

News & Politics

By Ben Culbreth

A dog enjoys the floodwaters in a Tampa neighborhood on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. (@littlecolecole/instagram)

A dog enjoys the floodwaters in a Tampa neighborhood on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. (@littlecolecole/instagram)

The Tampa region has just recently recovered from a grueling three weeks of non-stop rain. Flood damage is still affecting homes of residents in various counties, and some residents have not been able to return to their homes.

Tarpon Springs, a northwest city in the Tampa region, received close to 18.5 inches of rain over the duration of the summer storms, the Weather Channel said. July was the wettest July on record for Tarpon Springs.

Palm Harbor, also northwest of Tampa, had 7 inches of rain overnight on a single evening, August 3.

Despite the damage, Florida will not receive federal grants because there has not been any formal disaster declaration submitted. A disaster declaration would give the city of Tampa thousands of dollars to repair damaged homes, streets, and business owners affected by the storms.

Out of the 1100 homes that were affected by the three week storm, 600 of them were located in Pasco County. Governor Rick Scott wrote a letter to President Barrack Obama explaining the damage done during the storms. The prolonged rain produced $7.5 million in business damages and about $2 million in homeowner damages. County money has barely helped with the damage done to homes. State money doesn’t help much, either.

Roads flood in Tarpon Springs, Fla. on Friday, July 24, 2015. (@robertnelson/instagram)

Roads flood in Tarpon Springs, Fla. on Friday, July 24, 2015. (@robertnelson/instagram)

The real question is: Is Tampa safe from all the rain? It seems like the streets of Tampa and East Lake get flooded after a day of thunderstorms. One of the biggest reasons Tampa had a flooding problem is that after three straight weeks of rain, the lakes can’t hold any more water than they already do. Most of the drains in neighborhoods and cities flow into Lake Tarpon and Tampa bay. Since Lake Tarpon could not hold any more water, the water was pushed back into the streets.

Flooding didn’t only occur in neighborhoods. Houses and streets bordering the bay flooded twice as bad than in suburban areas. Bayshore Boulevard and I-275 were the main roads that got the worst of the flooding. Cars were sitting under water for days. Traffic delays lasted as long as 3 hours.

Hopefully with the money Tampa will get from the disaster grant, the city can make repairs to the pot holes on the roads and install more drains. Maybe the city can build ponds throughout neighborhoods to hold more water so streets do not get flooded as much in the future.

If Tampa gets hit with a tropical storm or a hurricane, what pre-cautions will we, as a community, be taking? The first thing one should do is go to nearby shelters and fill sandbags to border the doors and sides of houses and/or businesses. Most of Tampa’s evacuation routes were flooded during the previous storm; therefore, residents of nearby counties should evacuate well before the storm makes landfall to make sure no delays occur. Next time a storm hits, will the residents of Tampa be prepared?

Header photo by (@elizakimiko13/instagram).

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