The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is throwing its weight behind emergency management efforts in Pinellas County as areas continue to struggle with flooding.
Monday morning two PSTA buses were deployed to Caladesi RV Park in Palm Harbor. Residents there were taken to Clearwater Community Church.
Another bus was dispatched to an assisted living facility in Palm Harbor. The agency estimates that between 10 and 12 patients were transported from the facility to the East Lake Fire Department.
Some areas throughout the Tampa Bay region are experiencing heavy flooding as a result of continued rainfall onto already saturated ground. Images have been flooding news media of stranded cars, make-shift boats and even a guy catching a fish on the sidewalk. PSTA is assisting with emergency management efforts to evacuate people in flooded areas.
The transit agency is part of the Emergency Operations Center. Whenever that is activated PSTA is deployed to evacuation sites to transport people to shelters.
Despite localized problems with flooding throughout Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, none of the local emergency management departments have reached out for statewide help.
According to Aaron Gallaher, communications director for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, local departments report they are managing the situation adequately using their own resources.
Should the flooding situation escalate, Gallaher said the statewide agency is prepared to assist. That agency would help with anything from organizing law enforcement response from outside agencies to making sandbags available to residents.
Gallaher said the agency will continue to monitor the situation even after the rain has stopped because rivers can still rise and create new flooding problems.
In the meantime, residents are being asked to avoid driving in flooded areas and take caution when they do have to travel.