You Paid For It: Tampa mayor cites work on stormwater flooding during State of City Address

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa’s Mayor Bob Buckhorn delivered a stirring speech full of optimism at his annual State of the City Address on Tuesday.

“Together, we will keep moving forward,” Buckhorn told the cheering crowd.

But, there’s one problem that’s still not fully addressed yet even after years of trying, stormwater flooding.

“For years, we were basically patching it with duct tape and spit. We now have the funding source to go out and fix it,” Buckhorn told 8 on Your Side.

During his speech, the mayor talked about how much all of that is costing city taxpayers.

“We’ve spent 122 million on storm water improvements, with thanks to the Tampa City Council, and for their courage, another 75 million projected to be spent in the next two years,” Buckhorn said.

Two years ago, in August 2015, torrential downpours inundated city streets and put many neighborhoods in South Tampa underwater. John Duff lives on Platt Street and had to erect barricades to keep wakes generated by passing vehicles from sending floodwaters into his home, which had already flooded three times previously.

”The street still floods every time there’s a heavy thunderstorm,” Duff said. “Yes, it does.”

Duff said city crews now do a superior job of clearing out the storm drain on his street that was clogged with debris during those floods in 2015, but he’s still concerned, because the underground drainage can’t handle the volume of water during heavy rain.

He blames that trouble on a city project that took place back in 1994, long before Buckhorn took office.

“They replaced the existing 36-inch pipe with a 12-inch pipe and that’s why we flood,” Duff said.

Mayor Buckhorn tells us he’s not familiar with Duff’s particular complaint, which Duff described in a letter to the mayor’s office back in February, but insists the city is moving forward to address many such shortcomings.

“I’m not sure what that is all about, that particular letter, I don’t know. I don’t know exactly the address, but we’re trying,” Buckhorn said.

The mayor cited money shortfalls as his biggest challenge during his remaining 725 days in office as he deals with stormwater flooding and a host of other city needs. Duff has a suggestion for the mayor whenever he has some spare time.

“Come out and take a look, because you’ll see it, you will believe it and you will want to change it,” Duff said.

City engineers who responded to Duff’s February 9th letter are now testing the drainage system to see what needs to be done.

Meanwhile, the rainy season approaches and Duff worries whether his house will flood again for the fifth time since he moved in more than two decades ago.

“If we got a hurricane, we’d be dead in the water,” Duff said.

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