Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In worst-hit Progress Village, neighbors help neighbors clean up from storm

TAMPA — The storms that whipped through Tampa Bay left Mamie Pittman with half a house.

Winds yanked off her roof and left it looking like a half-opened pull tab. Part of it spilled into her neighbor's yard. Friday's clear skies exposed the destruction of her living and dining rooms open to the sky. Broken glass lined the floor.

But Pittman, 74, smiled as she sat in her kitchen eating a burger a neighbor's son gave her. She and her neighbors in Progress Village were some of the hardest hit by Thursday's intense storms, but they spent Friday helping each other.

Electrical wires were down, tangled and draped across roofs, streets and cars. Power couldn't be restored until every wire was accounted for or there would be a risk of someone getting electrocuted.

Many neighborhoods in Hillsborough County were in bad shape, but "the most significant damage as far as size and concentration is Progress Village," said Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon.

Half of the 100 homes damaged in Hillsborough were in Progress Village, McKinnon said. Most of the 60 trees taken off roads by sheriff's deputies with chainsaws were there, too. McKinnon saw a full-size trampoline sitting at the top of a 50-foot oak tree.

Mamie Pittman's son, James, said he saw Thursday's storm coming, but it was unlike anything he'd ever seen before.

"It was weird. It didn't look like a tornado," Pittman said. "The rain was just coming at you sideways."

Every one of the 800 homes in Progress Village was without power Friday, but Pittman said neighbors immediately pitched in. In front of his mother's house, James Pittman waved to another man who took the day off from work to hand out bags of ice from his pickup.

Across the street, a sign read: "Rebuilding Together."

And people were.

Neighbors sawed down big chunks of fallen trees and tossed them into large bins as garbage trucks circled the streets. Neighbors swept away small branches and dirt to uncover driveways.

Tanya Lee was at work Thursday when the rain pounded the windows of the Amscot Tax Service building. She and other employees hid in the bathrooms. "It was hitting the windows so hard to where you thought it was going to break it," said Lee, 42.

So much debris covered the road to her mother's house that Lee had to detour from her usual route. When she got there, the roof was damaged and the top of the screened-in back porch was peeled off.

But Friday, she had her gloves on and was helping with the cleanup on the street where her mother, Carlene, lives. "We've just seen everybody doing it, so we just pitched in and started helping," Lee said.

On a nearby street, Tony Smith raked leaves with friends and neighbors. There were piles and piles of debris left to go.

When the storm hit, he saw an explosion as electrical wires fell to the ground. He watched tractor-trailers lifted to the other side of a fence by the wind. "It really seemed like a hurricane was here," said Smith, a Miami native.

Despite the magnitude of the storm, Smith thought it was taking too long to get power restored to the neighborhood.

Mamie Pittman was just grateful no one was hurt, despite the damage to her home of 33 years. Her son salvaged some pictures, but the furniture and everything else in half the house was destroyed.

"Well, those are material things," Pittman said. "You can replace them, but you can't replace life."

Ileana Morales can be reached at (813)226-3386 or [email protected]

In worst-hit Progress Village, neighbors help neighbors clean up from storm 04/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 11:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man charged in hit-and-run crash that killed bicyclist on I-4 exit ramp in Tampa

    Accidents

    TAMPA — A 44-year-old Tampa was arrested and charged Wednesday in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist earlier in the day.

    Christopher Jerimiah Cole, 44, of Tampa was driving this silver Mercedes on Wednesday when it struck a bicyclist on the exit ramp from eastbound Interstate 4 to southbound U.S. 301, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Cole kept driving, troopers said. The bicyclist, a 45-year-old Brandon man, died at the scene. His name was not immediately released because troopers were working to notify his family. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  2. Quarterbacks, head coach targeting Vernon Hargreaves; 'I'm not producing,' he says

    Bucs

    Eli Manning gathered his receivers together during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and informed them of the weakest link of the secondary he planned to target that afternoon.

    Quarterbacks this season have a 128.7 rating when targeting Vernon Hargreaves. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Rick Baker's radio ad said Rick Kriseman missed NAACP event---but he didn't.

    Blogs

    A radio ad narrated by St. Petersburg civil rights activist Sevell Brown and paid for by a political-action committee supporting Rick Baker asserts that Mayor Rick Kriseman "couldn't be bothered to show up" for a recent NAACP event.

    Rick Kriseman didn't skip recent NAACP event, but Rick Baker radio ad claims he did
  4. Demolition begins on wing of Channelside Bay Plaza, making way for Water Street Tampa (w/video)

    Business

    TAMPA — The original developers of Channelside Bay Plaza at first wanted the name of the complex to include the word "Garrison." That would have fit, because the center turned out to be fort-like, inwardly focused and unwelcoming.

    A pedestrian bridge in the southwest wing of Channelside Bay Plaza was demolished in Tampa on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. [Gabriella Angotti-Jones  | Times]
  5. Police: North Tampa woman fatally stabs live-in boyfriend

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa woman faces a charge of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of her live-in boyfriend early Wednesday morning.