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Flood watch, storms continue after Wednesday's record rain

It's not over yet.

The stormy weather that pummeled the bay area Wednesday is likely to continue Thursday, with another flood watch in effect until 10 p.m.

And because the ground is already sodden with water, serious floods are more likely, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez. The National Weather Service put Thursday's rain chances at 80 to 90 percent.

In Ruskin, the Little Manatee River reaches flood stage at 11 feet. At 9 a.m., the river had risen to 13.5 feet, which means some mild street flooding.

The river will continue to rise Thursday, according to the Weather Service, peaking at 14.7 feet sometime after midnight.

But the forecast of moderate flooding is of little concern to the 32nd Street homeowners nearest the Little Manatee. Their trailers are elevated, so they're not expecting any threat to their homes. Some residents have moved their cars up the street to higher ground.

The showers that caused widespread flooding throughout the Tampa Bay area slowed considerably overnight, with the most soggy areas getting about an inch of rainfall. It was a much-needed reprieve for Port Richey, South Tampa and east Hillsborough, which saw some of the worst flooding Wednesday.

Brandon got the most rain with 5.15 inches, while New Port Richey got 3.66 inches. St. Petersburg got 1.33 inches.

Pasco County Public Works officials, who called for an evacuation Wednesday of nearly 10 blocks near Port Richey, have kept several streets barricaded where there is standing water, in the area of U.S. Highway 19 and Ranch Road.

Officials are handing out sandbags at the Public Works Building, 7536 State St., in New Port Richey. They have closed the shelter at Saint Mark's Presbyterian Church, 7922 State Road 52, which was open all night after a half-dozen families were evacuated and others experienced flooding in or around their homes.

There were also 15 families evacuated Wednesday in Hillsborough County, along 82nd Avenue from Progress Village Boulevard to Fowler Avenue. Flooding was so severe that the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office marine unit used boats to help move the residents, deputies said.

The Progress Village Baptist Church and St. Cecilia's Episcopal Church on Maydell Drive served as temporary shelters, but deputies said all the residents ended up staying with family members instead.

Sandbags will be available in Hillsborough from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at several county maintenance units: the West Service Unit, 9805 Sheldon Road in Tampa; the Central Service Unit, 4115 S 66th St. in Tampa; the East Service Unit, 4702 Sydney Road in Plant City; and the South Service Unit, 7820 Big Bend Road in Gibsonton. Shovels and bags will be available for people to fill sand bags on a first-come, first-served basis. Each household is limited to 25 bags.

Marquez said Wednesday's rain set a record in Tampa, with 4.72 inches. The previous rain record for that day was set in 1955 with 2.84 inches. Wednesday was the sixth wettest day in July on record since 1890, she said.

She said weather should improve in time for the Fourth of July.

Rain chances will decrease to about 50 percent Friday, and to 20 percent by Saturday, National Weather Service forecaster Jennifer Colson said.

"We're definitely going to dry out for the weekend," she said.

Times Staff Kevin Smetana contributed to this report.

Flood watch, storms continue after Wednesday's record rain 07/02/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 4, 2009 1:44pm]

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