Downed power lines, fallen trees, flooding, intersections without working traffic signals are just a few of the problems St. Petersburg is facing from the passing of Hurricane Hermine, Mayor Rick Kriseman said.
And even worse, the city’s sewer system was so overwhelmed by the rains that officials had to pour “millions” of gallons of wastewater into Tampa Bay.
“We know it’s been a tough couple of days,” Kriseman said.
Kriseman was speaking at a press conference early Friday at the city’s master fire station, 400 Dr. MLK St. S.
Although St. Petersburg officials had tried to prepare for heavy rains by draining the system and adding 3 million gallons of extra capacity to the Albert Whitted sewer plant, “it certainly” wasn’t enough, Kriseman said. The city received an average of 9 inches of rain on Wednesday alone at its three plants and 11 inches of rain at one facility.
“There was nothing we could do,” Kriseman said.
On the other hand, Kriseman said one goal officials have is to prevent sewage backing up into homes or pouring onto city streets.
“We’ve done a pretty good job in that respect,” Kriseman said.
Kriseman said he’s not sure how much wastewater went into the bay, but believed it was “millions” of gallons.
The city, he said, has both short- and long-term plans to solve St. Petersburg’s sewer woes. The City Council has earmarked about $58 million in the proposed 2016-17 budget.
The problem is not St. Petersburg’s alone. Other municipalities in the county are also having problems – a sign of a countrywide problem, Kriseman said.
“The country’s infrastructure is aging and it needs to be repaired,” he said. He called on Tallahassee and Washington to help make sure that happens.
Kriseman added a cautionary note.
“There are a lot of power lines down in this community,” he said. “If you don’t have to go out today, don’t go out.”
And, he said, be sure to stay out of flooded areas because live power lines may be in the water.
It’s unclear how many Pinellas residents are without power. Duke Energy said it’s staged more than 1,200 workers from Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky at three strategic locations to ensure a rapid response to service needs.
Customers who are without power can report outages in several ways:
Visiting the mobile website at m.duke-energy.com
Texting OUT to 57801 (Standard text and data charges may apply)
Calling the automated outage-reporting system at (800) 228-8485
For storm or power restoration updates, follow Duke Energy on Twitter (@DukeEnergy) and Facebook (Duke Energy).