By Jeff Odom
After months of headache, Lutz resident Frank Muniz can breathe easier knowing his property is beginning to dry out.
Muniz’s yard, a drainage ditch and an unpaved roadway leading up to his home on Crooked Lane were underwater after Tropical Storm Debby dumped heavy amounts of rain in early July.
Across from his property at the Oscar Cooler Sports Complex, a small field flooded due to a damaged drain pipe, which prevented the water from receding. The standing water then spilled through a chain link fence dividing the two properties and into Muniz’s yard.
For months, Muniz made phone calls to Hillsborough County officials. Not only did he want the problem with drainage corrected, but also help in getting rid of the water.
But those pleas went ignored, and with each afternoon storm the situation grew worse.
Then, a day after The Laker/Lutz News detailed Muniz’s situation Sept. 27, county workers began draining the water from the field, moving it to a retention pond in front of the complex.
“The ground is just so saturated because of all the rain,” Muniz said. “It’s still puddling up, but they said they’re trying to work on it.”
County Public Works spokesman Steve Valdez said they had to change elevations in order to get the water moving in the opposite direction. He added, the workers had to get permission on where it could move the water to in order to protect Muniz’s yard.
Muniz said workers told him it’s a waiting process on where the water can go.
“They said as long as it’s in the front pond it should be okay,” Muniz said. “They did a good job, and they cleared out (debris) along the (complex’s) drainage ditch.”
Hillsborough is still 20 inches above the normal level for rainfall this year, which contributed to the problem.
“Everyone has been dealing with flooding problems,” Valdez said. “It’s the highest rainfall on record.”