Saturated Largo suffering from Hermine

Alicja Hermann says the sewer drain right across from her house on Donegan Road in Largo has been bubbling with a combination of rainwater and raw sewage for the better part of two days now.

Largo, FL -- In Largo, it’s been another day of rain on top of nearly a foot of it Wednesday from Hurricane Hermine.

It’s pushing the city sewer system beyond its limits.

It's unsightly, disgusting, and frankly, if you could smell it, you might have a hard time keeping your lunch down. 

“Please - do something,” begged Alicja Morawski-Hermann.

Morawski-Hermann says the sewer drained right across from her house on Donegan Road in Largo. It has been bubbling with a combination of rainwater and raw sewage for the better part of two days now.

She and her neighbors worried about more than just the foul odor.

“Bacteria,” she said. “You know, it's not nice to sit outside and breathe this stuff."

J.C. Zavalnek, who lives two doors down, agreed.

“It's a health hazard. A serious health hazard,” said Zavalnek. He says the city spent a lot of money trying to fix what has become a chronic problem each time it rains heavily in their neighborhood, but it hasn’t worked.

On Thursday, even as Hermine dumped more rain in Largo, officials were sending truck after truck to sop up the mess.

But the trucks are barely putting a dent in it. The sheer volume, they admit, is overwhelming.

“We're going to do the best we can do. From the flow of it, but we just do what we can do,” said city truck operator Robert Harvey.

“It just smells. The bacteria,” said Morawski-Hermann, and even when the rain stops, she says it won’t be much better because the sludge will dry out. “When the sun comes, it really stinks over here,” she said.

In other Largo neighborhoods, residents are blaming city and county officials for not doing a good enough job keeping drainage pipes and retention areas cleared out ahead of the storm.

“I don't know if I can do any more damage. I mean, it's done,” said Shannon Shearer, looking around her home on 110th Avenue. Shannon and her husband, Ed are still in shock.

The rain from Tropical Storm Hermine literally left its mark on and in their house in Largo. You can see the high water mark on walls, furniture – everything.

“And the storm drains that are around our house were just backed up,” said Ed, “So, it just backed up right into our cul-de-sac.”

The Shearers say their home sits at a 40-foot elevation, so they've never been flooded. Never needed flood insurance.

Now their floors, furniture - even Shannon's prized Corvette – are ruined.

The problem, they believe, was a blocked drainage canal behind their house.

“I wish this wouldn't have happened,” said Ed, “I wish they would've been a little more on top of keeping the storm drains cleaned.”

"Hours after the water came pouring in, work crews did something to get the water flowing," Ed said. "When they did, it quickly went down just as fast as it had come up." 

“There were probably 10 county trucks out here,” he said, “Obviously there was a blockage somewhere. They didn't want to admit that yesterday until it was cleared.”

Without flood insurance, the Shearers hope that what happened to them and a couple of their neighbors will be viewed as a storm-water event, not flooding.

This could be another potentially expensive lesson from Hermine.

(© 2016 WTSP)


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