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Progress Village braces for more flooding after 15 families evacuated

TAMPA — Lorrie Underwood is standing outside in his slippers, peering down his flooded street.

He points to a spot on the driveway a few feet from his front door. That, he says, is how far the rain came Wednesday.

"Well, I thought it'd be draining better than this," said Underwood, 75, who said he hasn't seen flooding this bad in Progress Village in about a decade. "But the way it rained yesterday, phew! It rained!"

Fifteen families were evacuated from the Progress Village area Wednesday night, when a record amount of rain fell on Tampa.

Residents of the neighborhood woke up Thursday morning to a soggy sight. The water that invaded their front yards and homes Wednesday had still not all receded. And Thursday's forecast didn't inspire much hope.

Expected: more rain, more flooding, more frustration.

"I don't think the drain has been able to keep up with that amount of rain in a short time," said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ray Yeakley. "I really don't know why that is."

Though nearby churches were ready to serve as shelters Wednesday night, everyone who was evacuated stayed with other family members, according to Fire Rescue.

Rescuers know it's not over. "We're ready," Yeakley said.

It's not the only problem spot in the Tampa Bay area.

A nearly 10-block area of Pasco County, between Port Richey and Hudson, was blocked off and evacuated Wednesday for the same reason.

But while rain can't be avoided, what about the flooding? Why so many problems with drainage, and how can it be fixed?

Chris Kelly, 36, who lives off Progress Village Boulevard, wants to know. "They've got to do something," he said.

"The only reason why we haven't had flooding in here in so long is because we haven't had any water," Kelly said. "They need to fix that drain."

John Newton, director of transportation maintenance for Hillsborough County public works, said water from that neighborhood drains to the Archie Creek, just south of the area, before heading to Tampa Bay. Newton said the water couldn't drain Wednesday because the creek was full.

He said the only way to prevent flooding in a similar situation would be to install a pump system, but that would take time, money and permits. And that area only floods every couple of years, Newton said.

"When you get that kind of rain, it's going to happen," he said.

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Progress Village braces for more flooding after 15 families evacuated 07/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 2, 2009 11:31am]
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