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Vinoy guests have mixed reactions to cars damaged in flooded garage

While some say it was an act of God, others want the hotel to take responsibility for the damage.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Guests at the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg had mixed reactions after finding their cars damaged when the parking garage flooded in Thursday’s record-breaking rainfall. 

Some hotel employees, who also had cars in the garage, said the water was waist-deep in some places.

“They’re not offering anything. Nothing,” said Debbie Sugden, who was in town to watch her granddaughter compete in a swim meet. She said hotel staff simply told her that her car was underwater.

“And that was it, and when we went in and talked to the general manager, she was not very helpful,” said Sugden. “If this was my house, I’d be responsible for somebody else’s car. So, that’s their grounds and they’re not responsible for it, so it makes us real angry.”

Others, like Rick Graham of Sebring, were more understanding.

“It is what it is," he said. "I mean, people in the hotel are upset, getting upset with the management and it wasn’t the management’s fault. I mean, it’s an act of God that happened, it is what is it, just roll with the flow.”

What remained unclear on Friday, however, was who will end up being held liable for the damage caused by the flooding. 

Meanwhile, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman defended the city’s stormwater system on Twitter.

“Receiving many questions this morning from our friends in the media,” Kriseman wrote in two tweets on Friday. “Let me answer a few on here. 1. Yesterday’s flooding was caused by lots of rain and it was during/around high tide. 2. Our wastewater system performed well. Not aware of any incidents. 3. No acute issues related to stormwater drainage, but as more rain is expected, our crews will ensure no new debris is blocking drains.”

Barbara Readey, Vinoy general manager, issued this statement Friday:

A flooding incident occurred in the lower level hotel garage yesterday evening. This issue was related to environmental conditions, and impacted several cars. Together with our long-standing valet partner, we are working to accommodate guests’ needs and concerns, assess damages and restore normal garage operations as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the resort remains open and fully operational. We sincerely regret any inconvenience.

Friday evening after more rain hit the area, the lower portion of the garage was blocked off. 

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