Construction site likely caused damaging floods in South Tampa; residents fear problem isn’t fixed

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The water has gone down on South Juanita Street in Port Tampa.

What hasn’t gone is the fear from homeowners that damaging floods will hit again.

Both the City of Tampa and Lennar Homes, a developer building a large subdivision of new homes in the Port Tampa area, acknowledge something about the construction site likely clogged up stormwater that stranded some people for days.

Megan Wallace is one of the residents whose property filled with water. Like her neighbors, she couldn’t get her car out of the driveway for two days. The neighborhood started to flood last Wednesday, with the contractor bringing in a pump Friday.

“It’s very frustrating, you know? It’s very stressful,” Wallace said Tuesday, after the water had receded. “I know some of my neighbors lost generators, my garden got destroyed.”

Wallace’s big concern is that she can’t get anyone with the city or the construction company to point out what caused the backlog of water in the first place. One neighbor mentioned the water reached the highest point he’s seen in thirty years living there.

“I heard they’re working on it, but that has not reassured us this won’t happen again,” Wallace said.

A spokesperson with the developer, Lennar Homes, tells 8 On Your Side they have not confirmed what caused the flooding but that the company is “dedicated to work with the neighborhood…to address the issue.”

The city is also aware of the problem, but maintains the construction project has met all its technical requirements.

Neighbors fear the clock is ticking to find out why the construction is clogging up the water and fix it before the next rainstorm rolls through.

“We’re waiting for a solution,” Wallace said. “We hope we can get one soon.”

Full statement from Lennar Homes:

“The water at the site has been pumped out, and we are working with the City and with adjacent residents to address concerns they may have. Our goal in the construction process is to be a good neighbor.”

and

“We understand and appreciate that this area has been challenged by stormwater for years. As part of our design work with the City, we created new stormwater retention ponds that did not exist previously. We are not yet able to confirm what caused this most recent flooding, but we are dedicated to work with the neighborhood, the City and our engineering and development teams to ensure that we address the issues.”

Full statement from Jean Duncan, City of Tampa:

We are aware of the flooding concerns in the Port Tampa area on S. Juanita St. When this issue was brought to our attention, we reached out to the developer (Lennar Homes), the Engineer of Record (Hamilton Engineering), and the construction contractor (RIPA), and asked them to investigate and meet with the residents in person to determine a remedy to the situation. The contractor was able to set up some temporary pumps last week to alleviate the situation.

In general, all public and private development plans are reviewed by professionals in our Construction Services Department. They ensure that the City’s Stormwater Technical Standards are being met. One of those requirements is that the site must be designed to demonstrate that the adjacent properties will not be adversely impacted by the new development. They are also required to use what we call “Best Management Practices” to ensure the construction activities are the least disruptive to the community and the environment.

This is a challenging part of the City, where the street elevations are only 2-3′ above sea level and high tides often impact drainage flow. Construction during the summer rainy season is every more challenging, with the wet conditions remaining for days at a time.

This development has met the technical requirements, and currently, our Contract Administration Department (separate department from Construction Services) is working with the developer’s team to ensure that flooding issues related to the construction are being resolved.

We expect that the area residents should soon see some improvement with the construction inconveniences they have been experiencing.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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