TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Home and business owners in Tarpon Springs are preparing for Hurricane Michael. On Monday, the city opened three sandbag sites at the Tarpon Springs Splash Park, Dorset Park and near the sponge docks at Dodecanese Boulevard and Roosevelt Boulevard.
The big concern in Tarpon Springs is how many homes are in low lying areas, close to the water.
Homeowner Mal Clingan isn’t taking any chances with Hurricane Michael on the horizon. He filed up more than a dozen sandbags. "It comes from being a former boy scout, always be prepared. It’s better to have it there and not need it, then to need it and not have it, right?” he said while filling the bags and sticking them into his car.
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His home on Indian Bluff Island is surrounded by water and sits at just six feet above sea level.
“You always hear you can hide from the wind but run from the water. And water is coming,” Clingan explained while unloading the sandbags and placing them in front of his home.
Across town, Michael Targakis is getting ready to move his Sponge-O-Rama boat to higher ground.
“We’ve got about two feet or two and a half feet until we are over the top of the seawall, so if we get a strong push of wind and with the high tide coming through, they’ll be some flooding going on here for sure," Targakis said while pointing out how high the tide is behind his business on Dodecanese Boulevard.
High tide alone is enough to push several feet of water into the streets around the sponge docks. Combine that with a hurricane, and business owners get worried.
“To have this on top of us as a challenge, we just hope it comes through, does what it needs to do and moves on,” Targakis said.
Strong winds could arrive as early as Tuesday night in Pinellas County bringing tides of 2-4 feet, according to the National Weather Service.
That’s a big concern in Tarpon Springs, with Lake Tarpon, the Anclote River, several small bayous and the Gulf of Mexico nearby.
Pinellas County Public Works also spent the day Monday clearing out storm drains and other areas prone to flooding. They’re also looking into the possibility of opening more sandbagging sites across the county.