Waist deep water. Cars floating. Drivers panicking.
These are just a few of the things Regina Wilson saw as she watched flood waters ravage her neighborhood just south of Hillsborough Avenue alongside I-275 north.
"The water was pouring off the interstate. Bricks flying everywhere. Cars backed up," Regina said.
Flooding also threatened neighborhoods in Temple Terrance, leading the Red Cross to open a shelter for some residents. It also wreaked havoc at the University of South Florida, where students were moving out of dorms.
The Wilsons witnessed the damage in their neighborhood after dashing up to the second floor of their home for safety. Their balcony provided them a front row seat to the chaos below.
"It was crazy," said Ricky Wilson. "I didn't think it would be flooding in Tampa, not in front of my house."
The water came up to the Wilsons’ front door, climbing waist high in some areas. The force of the water dislodged bricks from the road and floated them down the street.
"We also saw a floating recycling bin going down the road as well," Ricky Wilson said.
Cars were also floating.
Regina Wilson told ABC Action News some drivers attempted to back up but could not. Instead, they waded through what looked like the shallow end of a swimming pool.
The Wilsons grabbed their smartphones and recorded video and snapped pictures.
"My thoughts were if we get a hurricane or a flood out, I think it will be something just like Louisiana. It'll be bad," Regina Wilson said.
Fire crews blocked an I-275 exit ramp to Hillsborough Avenue and tried helping stranded drivers.
Nearby, the I-275 southbound entrance ramp at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was also under water. Cars drove through the water, sending sheets of rainwater flying into the air.
ABC Action News also captured video of FHP troopers trying to help stranded drivers on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Many of the cars were flooded out and needed towing.
Water near the Wilsons’ house receded within an hour, revealing debris and bricks strewn about the street.
"I guess because of the water going so fast, it broke up the rocks and pushed it into the road," Ricky Wilson said.
City clean-up crews arrived about 1 p.m. and picked up most of the debris.
At USF, graduation hats doubled as umbrellas. Overflowing ponds swallowed campus sidewalks and swamped bus stops.
"It's a bummer but it was worse before. I mean we were getting the alarms and stuff going
off on the phones so I was kind've freaking out," said student Jade Boza.
Boza and her boyfriend, Eduardo Mora, were on campus to celebrate his graduation. Photos of USF's soggy campus on Facebook and Twitter couldn't overshadow commencement.
"I've seen pictures," Mora said. "People keep posting how flooded it is."