Brandon residents fed up with street flooding

- A group of neighbors in Brandon are frustrated and fed up after years of flooding issues on their street. Recent levels have been enough to force some of their vehicles off the road. Hillsborough County promises they're planning a permanent fix. But, neighbors say there's may not be time before the next big storm comes and they need help now.

These days, Timber Pond Drive is a lot more "pond" than it is "drive."  Monday, several inches of water covered the pavement.

"The lake level has covered our street for a month now," said neighbor Ron Menard. "Even though some people are still driving through it with bigger cars and trucks, people with smaller cars don't want to drive through it."

Monday, "road closed" and "detour" signs directed drivers to seek drier routes while some on the water line had to park on side streets and walk home.

"It's horrible," said neighbor Valerie Arthur. "Every time it rains, we worry about the water coming into our home. Last night, it rained heavily and it was halfway up our driveway."

Neighbors living near Mead Lake and Timber Pond say this kind of flooding has been a problem for years.

"It used to be every once in a while. Now, it's a common occurrence," said neighbor Brian Rodriguez.

They not only worry about their cars and homes, but also children and pets being near all that standing water.

Hillsborough County Public Works promises that they're on it. Tuesday, they released this statement:

"The County is aware of the flooding issues on Timber Pond Drive and is continuing to work diligently to resolve the situation. While there is standing water, all roads are passable and no sanitary sewer overflows have occurred. Also, to our knowledge, there are no interruptions in solid waste collections in the area.

The flooding occurs during extended periods of consistent rainfall due to rising water levels in a series of interconnected ponds and lakes. We have worked with the residents for several years on numerous projects and a temporary pumping solution. The goal of the County’s efforts has been to reduce the frequency and duration of the roadway flooding occurrences.

The County has had a temporary pump in place since mid-July, and a second pump was added in the area on Friday. All pumping solutions, temporary and permanent, need to be regulated and monitored to ensure that downstream locations are not adversely affected by the additional water being pumped from Mead Lake and surrounding bodies of water.

The County also has two additional planned projects that are currently in design:

•    Mead Lake/Timber Pond Connection Improvements – When completed the existing culvert between the two ponds will be increased to provide a better connection and water flow. Notice to proceed is anticipated to be given before March 2019. Cost is $22,000.
•    New Permanent Stormwater Pump Station – When completed the permanent pump station will replace the need for temporary pumping and provide year round recovery from large rain events. The project is currently in design and permitting, which is anticipated to be completed in Spring 2019. Following contractor procurement, construction of the pump station is anticipated begin in Fall 2019 at a cost of $300,000.
 
With work on the first project not beginning until at least March, what can be done now? Public Works Director John Lyons answered questions at Sept. 6th meeting with County Commissioners.

"A challenge we have now is under Swiftmud (Southwest Florida Water Management District), permitting is that can only pump in an emergency situation when water levels rise to what we are seeing there," Lyons said. 

"Is there anything else you can do right now?" asked Commissioner Sandy Murman.

"We don't believe so right now,," Lyons said. "The temporary pumping is about what we are limited to at this point without creating problems downstream."

Neighbors like Arthur say it can't wait until March, "because the water is at such high levels. Every time it rains, the water doesn't recede in any way. So, in just a couple heavy rains, it's going to be into our homes."

Lyons told Commissioners that the ultimate solution is to be able to draw down water levels in Mead Lake a create more capacity before summer storms. It's another potential long-term fix but one that neighbors here say isn't alleviating their flooding worries now and for the last few months of hurricane season. 
 

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