Madeira Beach to work on flooding problem

Published May 7, 2013

MADEIRA BEACH — For years, residents have complained about severe flooding in their streets.

For some areas, it doesn't take a hurricane to have water lapping at their doorsteps — just a heavy thunderstorm at high tide.

Now the city is preparing to tackle the problem.

For the next six months, Madeira Beach plans to clean and do minor repairs to every stormwater outfall.

Bids for the project, estimated to cost less than $1 million, are due by May 23.

"Let's clean and maintain the outfalls for six months and see where it gets us," City Manager Shane Crawford told the City Commission last week.

Once that is done, he said the city will better be able to evaluate the most severely flooded areas.

According to a recently updated stormwater plan, it would cost more than $23 million to upgrade and repair the entire stormwater system.

That cost does not include rebuilding and repaving deteriorating streets, also needed for flood control.

Stormwater fixes would go well beyond cleaning storm outfall pipes to include installation of anti-backflow gates and check valves within the pipes, stormwater pumping stations and permanent power generators.

The model used projects a storm event that would drop 9 inches of rain within 24 hours.

Even without a complicating storm surge or outfalls blocked by debris, the report compiled by the Cribb Philbeck Weaver Group engineering firm predicts a maximum flood depth of nearly 25 inches and an average flood depth of over 4 inches on the city's streets.

In comparison, Tropical Storm Debby, which hit last June, resulted in over 10 inches of rain and flooded much of the city.

The areas that would be affected the most in future flooding events, according to the engineers, are Parsley and Crystal drives, Boca Ciega Avenue and 131st Avenue N.

Just that area would cost $2.7 million to fix.

The next most critical area, given a "high priority" rating by the engineers and costing $9.2 million to repair, encompasses First Street S, 129th, 132nd, 133rd, 134th, 149th, 144th, 142nd and 141st avenues, Miramar Drive, N and S Bayshore Drive, 137th Avenue Circle, Pruitt Drive, Bay Point Drive, Normandy Road, Crystal Drive, Island Drive, Lillian Drive, Flamingo Drive, John's Pass Avenue and Pelican Lane.

"We should do it right. Fix the outfalls first, and then look at road engineering," Crawford said.

The city wants to totally re-engineer the streets on Crystal Island, perhaps one of the area's most severely affected by flooding, but that project is planned for later.

Engineering estimates for rebuilding and repaving Crystal Island's 2.2 miles of roads put the cost at over $4 million. A similar project on Boca Ciega Drive would cost nearly $3 million.

"Opponents may say we are not addressing the stormwater and paving issues," Crawford said. "I totally disagree. We will be doing it in a methodical fashion. The one thing that starts this is cleaning out the outfalls."