BELLEAIR – Resident Janice Metz spoke to the Town Commission on Tuesday evening about the damage done to her house from extensive rain on July 12. Metz, who lives on Winston Drive, said she had floodwater coming in one side of her house and out the other. The total damage is tentatively estimated at $50,000.
“I had a river of mud and sludge,” Metz said.
She believes that most of the spillage is from a Belleair Bluffs construction project on Mehlenbacher Road. There, she said, the drainage systems are sealed off. This is done to prevent construction waste from entering the Intracoastal Waterway. That created a stream of water flooding nearby streets.
Mark Techler lives on Bluffview Drive. He too feels that the severe flooding is due to construction.
“Somebody should figure this out,” Techler said. “This can’t be the first time something like this has happened.”
Techler spoke of numerous factors that could have attributed to the flooding. His main concerns included the closing of neighboring roads, the regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the installing of curbs to assist in the dispersal of large amounts of water.
Town Manager Steve Cottrell had observed the flooding first hand. He compared the situation to the Sunset Bay improvements, adding that the problems there were not of Winston Drive’s magnitude.
“You can either flood the roadways or open the drains into the bay,” Cottrell said. “You have to go with the lesser of two evils.”
He believes that in such drastic situations that opening the drains would be necessary. Cottrell returned to areas of concern days afterward in hopes of preventing further flooding.
Commissioner Bonnie Ruggles also expressed concern.
“When something like that happens and with no one being responsive, there needs to be an option for people that need help,” she said.
Other suggestions included closer monitoring of neighboring towns and cities undergoing construction that could inadvertently affect Belleair.
“We need to look into the practices of implementing rules and procedures,” Cottrell said. “We need to see where the problem is.”