Kriseman: Priority Is Saving Lives
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman urged residents to be prepared for the effects of Hurricane Irma.
ST. PETERSBURG – Saving lives is the first priority when dealing with the effects from Hurricane Irma, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Wednesday (Sept. 6).
The best way to save lives, he said, is to be prepared and to connect with the city to keep up with any evacuation orders or other information. Among ways to stay informed, he said, are to sign up for Alert St. Pete, follow the city on Facebook and Twitter, or go to the city’s web page at stpete.org.
“Our priority is saving peoples’ lives,” Kriseman said. He made his remarks during a press conference at Lake Maggiore, which he described as an “incredibly vulnerable area” for residents who are nestled between the lake and Tampa Bay. Other areas of the city, he said, are equally at risk from the flooding that could result from a massive hurricane. Among those “ground zero” areas is the Shore Crest neighborhood.
Kriseman stressed that the danger is real. He referred to Houston, which was heavily flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Rescuers, he said, had just found an infant’s body.
“An infant,” Kriseman said. “I cannot bear for that to happen in St. Petersburg.”
Kriseman and the other city officials who were with him said the city’s sewer system is ready for the storm.
Claude Tankersley, the public works administrator, said officials have been monitoring Irma since last week. They have also been doing all that they can to make sure the city’s aging sewer system is ready for torrential rains. Among their tasks – clearing debris and trash from street drains to give the water a place to go rather than have it backup.
The city is also in the midst of a system-wide upgrade and renovation of the sewer system designed to avoid the overflows during two storms in 2016. Thus far, workers have added capacity to the system – it can now handle an additional 30 million gallons per day flowing into the system.
The city has also lined about 20 miles of the approximately 950 miles of sewer piping. The lining – which will eventually include the entire system – is designed to stop inflow from rain and floods into the system through cracked and broken pipes. The city has also installed rain trays on about 3,500 of St. Petersburg’s 20,000 manholes. Those are also designed to prevent rain and flood waters from getting into the sewer system. The inflow and infiltration of rain and flood waters into the system contributed to the overflows of 2016.
And residents can do their part by getting laundry and dishes done before the storm and not during it. to avoid nonessential water use during possible heavy rain and storm activity.
Although officials were optimistic about the system’s ability to handle a storm, Kriseman said, “if we have a Category 4 or 5 storm that blows through, it isn’t going to matter what we’ve done.” But, he said, all other cities would have the same problem.
Photo taken from a video of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman during a press conference to discuss Hurricane Irma. Video courtesy of the city of St. Petersburg.
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