GULFPORT, Fla. — When Gulfport residents hear rain is in the forecast, they worry! Just one hour of heavy rain can flood streets in the waterfront town, especially during the rainy summer months or hurricane season. The good news is a flooding fix is happening right now!
Construction crews are tearing up portions of Gulfport Boulevard, the main drag through town. The pipes they are adding underground are twice as big as the ones currently being used, which should significantly help take flood water off the street.
That’s welcoming news for David Patterson, the owner of Dynamics 5409 Salon.
“Sometimes it looks like we have a small pond in front of the salon and you have to rowboat to your business.”
Rain in Gulfport can quickly become a nightmare.
Homeowner Wayne Ekberg has learned that through his two stints living in the waterside town.
“When it rains really heavy, you’re stuck, you’re stuck. You can’t go anywhere.”
It’s not uncommon to see people kayaking down the streets, especially during hurricane season, when the rain comes pounding down.
“It would take heavy rain, but about an hour and the road is like that,” explained David Hastings of Habana Cafe.
Yet, now a solution is in the works. Trucks are in motion building inlets, adding culverts and doubling the size of the pipes that take water off Gulfport Boulevard.
“Hopefully whatever they’re doing will work,” Hastings exclaimed.
The 1.7 million dollar project will take another 3 months to complete, wrapping up in March, in time for next year’s hurricane season.
Debbie Amis of Little Tommies Tiki says that’s essential.
“If we do get a tropical storm or hurricane, god forbid, we’ll be in a lot of trouble.”
The bad news: While this project should help a lot with drainage, Gulfport’s Public Works Director tells ABC Action News completely fixing the flooding problem is nearly impossible without raising the entire city several feet.
That’s why they’re looking into other options like cleaning out drainage pipes more often and developing a long-term plan to combat ongoing flooding.