Tampa neighborhood floods despite new pump

Tampa, Florida -- Residents in a Tampa neighborhood thought they would be relieved of any more flooding after the city improved the retention pond in their neighborhood last December.

The Donut Pond retention pump system pond off East 112th Ave. and 26th Street was just completed in December 2013. The city spent about $27 million repairing it.

It was supposed to keep flood water up to 3.5 inches in one hour from going into homes in the neighborhood. However on Friday, about 6.5 inches hit the neighborhood around the pond. At least four homes flooded and much more flood water damage surrounded the other homes.

"We got a letter when the retention pond was finished saying we wouldn't be flooded anymore, but then we got flooded. Why?" asked home owner Luz Barnhouse.

There's at least two inches of water inside their home. It destroyed their couch, beds and some furniture. It ruined the flooring in one of her son's room. They tore it out, because it started to smell.

"We had to take out the vinyl and then put all our clothes up high in the laundry room," said Barnhouse.

City Public Works director Irvin Lee said, "The idea that these pumps would protect the neighborhood there is a misnomer. What we were able to do is, we are able to drain the area quicker than what we saw in the past."

City chief engineer on the project, Al Hoel said in a statement:

The Donut Pond pumping station capacity is greater than a 5 year storm. The capacity is 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) which is equal to 45,000 gallons per minute (gpm). It was designed to prevent any flooding for a 25 year storm (3.6 in./hr.) and to prevent structural flooding for a 100 year storm (4.25 in./hr). This means that for a 100 year storm, streets will flood for a short time but not buildings. We have not ascertained the intensity of Friday's storm event yet. It appears likely that the intensity exceeded that of a 100 year event.

Please know that intensities are all referenced per hour, and the intensity of a 5 year storm event is 2.5in./hr.

The Weather Service in Ruskin said parts of Hillsborough County received rain that comes once every 100 years, meaning there is a one percent chance we would see more than 4.25 inches in one hour. Meteorologist Dan Noah confirmed parts of Tampa saw a total of 9.5 inches total during Friday's storm.

The city and the county will be working together to study and evaluate other neighborhoods to find out how whether other potential projects are needed.

They did have to stop the pumps at the Donut pond a couple times on Friday to allow the county ponds to pump water out; that way the conveyance system would not overflow. Then the city would turn their back on again and then all the water pumped into the conveyance system flowed into the river like it supposed to do.

The city said residents surrounding the Donut retention pond are not in a flood zone so when they purchase flood insurance, they will pay a lower price and also receive a 20 percent discount.


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