WJTV News Channel 12 - Downpour overwhelms Tampa's storm system

Downpour overwhelms Tampa's storm system

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Retention pond flood at Navajo and 29th. Retention pond flood at Navajo and 29th.
City councilwoman Lisa Montelione shows News Channel 8's Steve Andrews pictures she took of flooding in her district City councilwoman Lisa Montelione shows News Channel 8's Steve Andrews pictures she took of flooding in her district
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

If the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County spent millions to help control flooding issues in Hillsborough County, why was there so much flooding on Friday?

Did it have anything to do with weeds clogging up a retention pond near Navajo and 29th Street? Did the city turn on storm water pumps too late?

According to the city, the answer to both of those questions is no.

The city and county have in place a system of retention ponds, pipelines, and pumping stations to push storm water from one retention pond to another, down the line and eventually into the river.

Some of those pipelines are so large, you can stand in them.

But that just wasn't enough.

Why? The city claims the rain event that hit Tampa was a freak event. It dumped more water, 6 and a half inches in 2 hours, than a 100-year storm.

Public Works Director Irvin Lee said there was too much water and no place to put it.

There was a lot of flooding in north Tampa, in city councilwoman Lisa Montelione's district, even in her house.

"Although we have flooding here now, it's no where near as bad as it used to be years ago, because we did all of those storm water improvements," Montelione stated.

The city and county spent millions upgrading and connecting their storm water management systems. Pumps move the water from one retention pond to another, all mean to push the water into the river.

Montelione claims there was no way to prepare for 6 inches of rain in 2 hours.

"These huge storms bring on more rain than any engineering solution could probably offer," she said.

The newest upgrade, a pumping station on 113th Avenue was overwhelmed with water, but Montelione insists it did its job.

"We're standing by Fowler Avenue right now and 5 years ago, Fowler Avenue was under water," she said.

"Today was about trying to put 10 gallons of water into a 5 gallon container," Lee claimed.

During a rain event like this one, the county and city must coordinate to make sure one pump station does not pump too much water down the line into another retention pond. That, Lee points out, could cause more flooding problems.

According to Montelione, that may have happened. She is checking with the city and county to determine if both entities coordinated with one another during the downpour.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.



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