TAMPA (FOX 13) - Barbara Davidson has lived in the same home on West Watrous Avenue for decades. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Colin forced the 95-year-old to move.
The storm flooded her home with 2.5 inches of stormwater that backed up from the drainage culvert adjacent to her backyard. She says it's the first time the home flooded in 55 years.
She's not alone. Two more homes backing up to the culvert were overtaken by water during Colin. Debbie Monaco caught it on camera.
"Oh, it was rushing. It was gushing, it sounded like a river," she said Tuesday.
Each of the homeowners agree: the costly damage wasn't due to Mother Nature. They blame a construction company, PAC Com, and its subcontractors hired by the city of Tampa to beautify the culvert.
"[The company should] lift those grates up, open up the drainage. Take out the rocks. Don't leave it with all the dirt and debris that they have created," Monaco explained.
Monaco and others alerted the city before the storm, warning them the job site was a mess, with construction debris blocking the canal drains.
In a June 10 email, city of Tampa employee R.C. Baldwin acknowledged the company's mishandling of the situation, saying:
"As evidenced by the flooding of three homes and the streets in the neighborhood, the grates at Ferncroft trap debris which impedes the drainage. The city of Tampa requested Ferncroft be returned to its normal free-flowing condition prior to the expected rain storm. This request was ignored."
Now, homeowners say they're getting the silent treatment. Renovation work on their homes has halted with no one stepping up to pay the bill.
In the meantime, Davidson, who's on a fixed income, is left in limbo.
"We're in a motel. It has a little kitchenette, but it's not home," she said.
It's an expense she has to incur day after day, as her home sits idle.
"When I get in bed at night I start thinking. And so I haven't slept too much," she said.
FOX 13 News reached out to the city of Tampa for a response to the situation. The city said it is invoking the disputed work article in its contract with Pac Comm due to the situation, and is ordering the company to begin paying for the renovation work on those homes immediately.
This happened Tuesday, the day this story aired, so homeowners said they are going to watch and wait.