Northdale area hit by floods

Dozens of homeowners in the Northdale area of Tampa continued to dry out their houses Wednesday after a nearby creek overflowed, flooding their homes and causing thousands of dollars in damage.

According to neighbors, it only took a matter of hours Monday morning for water from Brushy Creek to flood out into Winterwind Drive, which is in the Country Place neighborhood.

Restoration crews have been called out by some homeowners to tear out drywall, flooring and help get rid of belongings that were ruined.

"People are without homes. It's devastating. We don't have anywhere to stay. We're going to be out of our homes for weeks, months on end," said Crystal Pennington, who took several pictures of the water, which made its way into in every room in her home. "[My daughter's] room is destroyed. My son's room is destroyed. Our bedroom is destroyed. Our whole house is gone."

"This is devastation," added Jeannette Santos, who has lived in the community for more than 20 years. "Until you've lived through this and done it, this is devastating. You don't know where to turn. You don't know where to begin. You don't know who can help you."

There are about 60 homes on Winterwind, nearly all of which suffered some damage. Several of the homes on the other side of the creek were also affected.

Jon-Paul Lavandeira, Director of Hillsborough County's Rapid Response Team, called the impact on homeowners "significant."

"Nothing has been uninhabitable, nothing that we have to declare somebody to have to vacate," Lavandeira explained. "But the damage is pretty big."

It was enough to make Craig Blanton end his trip to South America.

"We were just starting our vacation in South America and we got a phone call from our neighbor, I guess it was about 8:30 in the morning, letting us know that our house was flooded," he added.

Blanton said he had one thought: "We need to get home."

When he got back, he realized he was facing an expensive recovery process.

"You're talking thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars," Blanton said. "We had about a foot of water through the whole home. Everything is destroyed. We're staying at a hotel."

Several neighbors said they believe county crews need to dredge the creek.

A spokesperson for the public works department, however, said the county doesn't dredge waterways. Crews are making sure a main culvert under Erlich Road is clear of debris.

The American Red Cross is expected to visit the community Thursday to assess the damage and determine whether the organization can help.