Floodwaters recede in Progress Village, but not in Ruskin

Anthony Bigger, left, and friend Marc Smith paddle through standing water along 32nd Street SE in Ruskin Thursday afternoon as they make their way to their van to pick up Bigger’s wife from work.

BRIAN BLANCO | Special to the Times

Anthony Bigger, left, and friend Marc Smith paddle through standing water along 32nd Street SE in Ruskin Thursday afternoon as they make their way to their van to pick up Bigger’s wife from work.

RUSKIN — Residents showed little concern Thursday as the Little Manatee River flooded yards and streets in the aftermath of heavy rainfall.

The river, which floods when it reaches 11 feet in Ruskin, stood at just less than 14 feet Thursday afternoon. It was expected to reach 14.7 feet early today, said John McMichael, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin. A flood warning is in effect in the area until Sunday morning.

Flooding is typical in the 32nd Street area this time of year, residents said. Most trailers in the neighborhood are elevated to avoid flood damage.

Some roads near the river were still passable Thursday afternoon, but 42nd Avenue appeared to be almost 2 feet underwater.

Darren King's yard, which backs up to the Little Manatee, was submerged. His trailer is several feet above ground, so he wasn't worried about water entering the home.

King, like his neighbors, moved his car a few blocks up the road to drier ground. If he needs to leave, he'll rely on a kayak.

"That's the mode of transportation for the next couple of days," he said. "We'll be coming in and out by boat."

Flooding should subside by Saturday afternoon, McMichael said.

In the Progress Village area just east of Tampa, roads that had been submerged began to dry out Thursday. Fifteen families were evacuated from homes on 82nd Street on Wednesday after heavy rains flooded the neighborhood. But Endive Avenue remained about 6 inches underwater, and county officials closed nearby Allamanda Avenue.

County Commissioner Kevin White said he fielded about 250 complaints from residents who blamed the flooding on a lack of maintenance along Archie Creek. The creek drains stormwater from Progress Village into Tampa Bay.

Crews were monitoring the creek and plan to check it for debris today, county public works spokesman John Newton said. The rain caused the creek to overflow and left no place for the water to be pumped, Newton said.

"There's not much we can do to the creek," he said. "It's flowing as the water recedes."

Charles Lee Guilford said floodwater reached the front door and crept inside, damaging the carpet in his Endive Avenue home. He compared the flood to one from a 1960s hurricane.

"This is the worst it's been since I've been here," said Guilford, 78.

Kevin Smetana can be reached at ksmetana@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2439.

Floodwaters recede in Progress Village, but not in Ruskin 07/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 2, 2009 7:44pm]

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