Water Main Rupture Leaves New Tampa Residents Waterless
Instead of the water from a ruptured transmission main that left New Tampa residents waterless the afternoon of May 4 and had one northbound lane of the road closed until May 8, traffic is flowing freely again on the northbound side of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. between Amberly Dr. and Tampa Palms Blvd.
It was to be a big Friday night for local restaurants in the New Tampa area, as many recently graduated college students planned to celebrate their commencement from the University of South Florida (USF) over dinner with family and friends. But, those restaurant owners’ hopes of a line out their doors that night drowned when the water was shut off, forcing many of those restaurants to close for the evening, even though most had their water service restored within a few hours.
Around 2 p.m. that day, a water transmission main ruptured just south of the intersection of BBD and Tampa Palms Blvd. spilling water onto the northbound lanes of the road and disrupting traffic. Water gushed out of the ground along the east side of BBD for hours, rushing its way south next to the roadway, pooling just south of Amberly Dr.
The Tampa Police Department eventually closed down the segment of BBD between Amberly Dr. and Tampa Palms Blvd., diverting northbound traffic through Tampa Palms.
Workers from the Tampa Water Department (TWD) responded quickly and worked into the night to restore service to the affected area, which stretched from Fowler Ave. north to New Tampa. Most residents had service by Friday night and everyone had water flowing by Saturday afternoon, but a Boil Water Notice was put into effect that lasted until the morning of May 7.
According to TWD, a new water main had been installed next to the one that ruptured in anticipation of the BBD-widening project and undergoing testing. It was only two weeks away from being put into use.
Among the restaurants affected, Ciccio’s Lodge managing partner Robert Garofano says he turned away many large graduation parties that night. “We lost our entire night,” he says. The biggest beneficiaries of the closures were reportedly the restaurants at the Shops at Wiregrass mall in Wesley Chapel, which were apparently packed all night.
Water Main Rupture Can’t Roll Up The Red Carpet
Faucets may have run dry in New Tampa on May 4 following the water main rupture along Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., but that couldn’t stop the third annual “Red Carpet Affair” at St. James United Methodist Church in Tampa Palms.
The “Red Carpet Affair” is a prom-like dance and sit-down pasta dinner for those in the area living with disabilities, put on by St. James’ Special Connections Program, or special needs ministry. Guests enter by walking down the “red carpet,” similar to a Hollywood event and get a chance to be the “stars of the evening.”
“This was the first year that we were going to do a full, sit-down pasta dinner for everyone,” says Sally DePalma, leader of the special needs ministry at St. James. “More than 80 people were expected to show up.”
DePalma says the guest list was long, with many coming from as far away as Odessa, Safety Harbor and Town N’ Country. Some local celebrities also were set to be at the event to dance with the “stars of the red carpet,” including Miss Florida 2011 Kristina Janolo, Miss St. Petersburg Chloe Lupo and Miss Southeast Florida Brianna Birmingham.
But then, the water main ruptured, leaving all of New Tampa without water service mere hours before the event was scheduled to begin. It looked as if the event would have to be canceled, but it was going to take more than dry pipes to roll up the red carpet.
With only a few hours before guests would begin to arrive, the volunteers working the event scrambled to “Water” Continued from page 1 come up with a solution. Three separate teams of volunteers rushed to B.J.’s Wholesale on BBD and purchased more than 100 gallons of drinking water, because without water, there would be no pasta or beverages.
Eric Mudge, a volunteer who works for Clark Construction, was able to coordinate having four Port-o- Potties delivered to the church around 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, a feat in itself, to substitute for the loss of plumbing. Clark Construction even picked up the bill.
And, the event ended up going off without a hitch. At one point, there were more than 100 people at the dance. Guests and their parents danced the night away while other businesses and restaurants closed their doors.
“For this event to have happened, we believe there were some big fingers involved,” says DePalma.”
She explains that the event is just as much for the guests’ families as it is for the guests themselves.
“It’s not just another dance,” she says. “There is so much emotion involved. It’s great for these families to see their kids, who might live extremely isolated lives, out having fun with other people, especially in this atmosphere.”
St. James United Methodist Church’s special needs ministry focuses on “enriching the spiritual, social and emotional needs of children and adults with disabilities.” For more info, please call Sally DePalma at 971-4790, ext. 234.