Tampa Mayor: have a plan for storm

Bob Buckhorn Eric Ward

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Tropical depression 9 is expected to turn toward Florida’s Gulf Coast and strengthen to a tropical storm; Tampa’s Fire Chief says residents can expect 4-8 inches of rain and 20-40 mile an hour winds from this storm.

In a press conference Tuesday morning Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said barricades are pre-positioned at twenty known flooding locations. His best advice to residents is have a plan and don’t drive through standing water.

“We anticipate this is to be largely a rain and wind event. Obviously, based on our experience here in this community, our topography does not lend itself to heavy rains. We have a lot of standing water in areas that tend to collect water and that will be the same with this event, depending on the amount of rain that comes. It could be upwards of 5 inches or higher. If that is the case, we will have flooding and standing water in the usual places, where we normally have it.

“Our words to this community are very simple: Number one, be prepared. Have a plan, even if this is not a full blown tropical storm or hurricane.

“Every time we practice one of these, every time we go through one of these things, we need to perfect–both at our own individual family’s and as a city and for these departments in particular, what we go through. We learn every time we go through one of these.”

Tampa officials say schools will make a determination Wednesday evening about whether there will be closures on Thursday. In an email Pinellas County Schools gave a similar timetable.

Buckhorn says flooding could be less of a problem because the city has built a diversion pipeline in South Tampa and a downtown wastewater pump has been upgraded. On Thursday Tampa City Council will vote on a new stormwater fee. Buckhorn says it will make possible $250 million in infrastructure improvements.

Buckhorn also pointed out the three locations for sandbags in City of Tampa: Bobby Hicks Pool, MacFarlane Park and Jackson Heights Playground.

In Sarasota County, sandbags are available Tuesday until 6:00 p.m. at Newtown Estates Park, Twin Lakes Park & South County Fleet Facility in Venice.

In Manatee County Tuesday and Wednesday only sandbags will be available from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Buffalo Creek Park in Palmetto, G.T. Bray Park in Bradneton, Lakewood Ranch Park, Stormwater Ops in East Bradenton and the Rubonia Community Center in Palmetto.

In Pinellas County during daylight hours Tueday, residents can fill sandbags at John Chesnut Sr. Park in Palm Harbor, Lealman Community Park in St. Petersburg and Taylor Park in Largo.

In Pasco County, sandbags are available from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. until further notice at the West Pasco Government Center in New Port Richey, C-Barn in San Antonio, Veterans Memorial Park in Hudson, Mitchell Park in New Port Richey, Land O’ Lakes Rec Center, and the Fire Station at 6907 Dairy Road, Zephyrhills

Several fire stations in Polk County have sandbag fill stations from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; bring your own shovel.