IRMA: Bay area counties work to restore power to sewage pump stations

By Holly Gregory, Anchor/Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 7:43 PM EDT

Crews across the Bay area have been working overtime to restore power to sewage pump stations since Hurricane Irma passed, to keep sewage from backing up into residents' homes.

  • Pasco lost power to 423 pump stations
  • Clearwater had 2 significant sewage spills
  • Hillsborough lost power to a third of its pump stations

It's a scene playing out all across the Bay area.  A group of neighbors sitting under a tent in the driveway because with the power off, it's too hot inside.

"I've got my computer hooked up to my Ford truck to get power and so we can re-charge our phones," said resident Tom Matthews.

Being without power in the neighborhood was bad enough, but recently Matthews noticed sewage bubbling up through the manhole covers on his street.

"Sewage in our homes would be a nightmare," he said.  

Luckily, that did not happen. FEMA sent a generator to help Pasco crews get the sewage pumps in Matthews' neighborhood up and running. In total, Pasco lost power to 423 sewage pump stations, and work continues to get them all back online.

Elsewhere, Clearwater had two significant sewage spills. There crews are also working around the clock to make sure the mess does not end up in yards or homes, according to city Director of Public Utilities David Porter.

"We are running 12 hour shifts and working around the clock," Porter said. "I've had people sleeping in every plant."

Hillsborough County, meanwhile, lost power to the third of its pump stations. The systems are steadily coming back online as power is restored.