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Heavy rains cause dramatic flooding across the bay area; more likely today

Pounding thunderstorms this week are beginning to take a toll, and more rain is on the way.

Beyond scattered flooding and traffic accidents, the rains are damaging homes, washing out roads and swamping vehicles. Some areas around Tampa Bay already have been inundated with up to 5 inches.

More heavy storms are expected Friday afternoon, with a flood watch issued for Hernando and Pasco counties.

"It looks like another Tampa Bay 5 o'clock slam,'' said Bay News 9 meteorologist Mike Clay.

August is typically one of the rainiest months, with Tampa International Airport averaging more than 7 inches. The problem is that some areas are getting the rain all at once.

"This is a summertime pattern, but it is quite a bit," said Michael Lewis, a meteorologist with NWS.

Heavy rains have been a daily occurrence in some areas.

On Thursday, rains washed out part of Jessamine Road west of Dade City, leaving a deep hole.

On Monday, heavy rains loosened the earth around the roots of a tree in Tampa that fell on a house.

"The roof was completely destroyed," Mada Lajeu, 26, said of the accident. Her mother, father, and four brothers, ranging in age from eight years old to 17, live in the house, at 2111 E Bougainvillea Ave.

Much of the worst flooding has been in the Brooksville area of Hernando County.

Water pooled in the Big Lots and Save-A-Lot stores near Cortez and Broad streets on Thursday evening, gushing through the doors in small, smelly rivers.

Save-A-Lot worker Ashley McElwain, 23, trudged across the parking lot through knee-high water, hoping to move her car to higher ground.

Instead, she got a lesson in how a fast-rising flood can be so dangerous. Water was already filling her car when she got in about 5:40 p.m. She turned the key and tried to move it.

"Before I was able to get out of the way, my car drifted away," she said. "The water caught it and I had no control over it."

Firefighters eventually pulled her out and walked her back to the building.

Sylvia Highburger, 80, was napping Thursday evening in a recliner at her sister's house overlooking Sparkman Lake south of Brooksville when water rose to the porch.

Neighbors used canoes to row Highburger and her sister to dry land.

"It was upsetting," Highburger said, leading on a cane that she's had to use since she slipped and fell in the water last night.

At Greenbriar Villa Apartments, Janet Hess plodded around her apartment by herself. Water had come into her home in several areas, darkening the carpet in places.

"I was worried about the air conditioner," she said. "It's kind of scary when you're here by yourself.

In the Wesley Chapel area of Pasco County, the rains flooded offices and classrooms at Weightman Middle School, said assistant superintendent Ray Gadd said.

The Pasco school district also had some isolated roof leaks on some of its buildings, including at Watergrass Elementary in Wesley Chapel and Gulf High in New Port Richey. Maintenance crews worked into the night making repairs.

Heavy rains cause dramatic flooding across the bay area; more likely today 08/23/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 12:11pm]
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