Tampa Bay Bucs QB Jameis Winston reportedly groped an Uber driver in 2016, BuzzFeed News reports

Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The NFL is reportedly investigating allegations that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Jameis Winston, groped a female Uber driver in 2016, according to BuzzFeed News. Winston however, says the allegations are false.

In an article posted on Friday, BuzzFeed says a letter was sent from the NFL’s special counsel for investigations to the Uber driver on Thursday.

The incident reportedly happened in Scottsdale, Arizona at approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, 2016. The female Uber driver, identified as Kate, told BuzzFeed News that when she arrived to the location to pick up her passenger, a group of men told her that she would be driving around someone famous. Jameis Winston sat down in the front passenger seat and the Uber driver says right after she started driving, Winston began behaving poorly.

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The incident happened at a drive-thru Mexican restaurant after Winston reportedly asked to stop for food. The driver says Winston reached over and "grabbed my crotch." Kate tells BuzzFeed News she was shocked and asked "what’s up with that?"

"The behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong. The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident," a spokesperson for Uber said.

According to Uber’s community guidelines, there is to be "no sexual conduct with riders, no matter what."

On Friday at 1:35 p.m. Jameis Winston posted a statement on his twitter regarding the incident. He wrote:

"A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago. The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver. I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her. The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately. At the time of the alleged incident, I denied the allegations to Uber, yet they still decided to suspend my account.

I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false. While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released a statement on Friday afternoon.

“We are in the process of obtaining further information regarding today’s media report. We take these matters seriously and are fully supportive of the investigation that is being conducted by the NFL.”

The NFL released the following statement when ABC Action News reached out for a comment on the incident.

"The allegation was shared with the NFL and we have reached out to Uber to request any information they may have."

Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston apologizes for role in incident

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston gets ready to throw against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI

injured quarterback Jameis Winston apologized Wednesday for sparking an incident that led to wide receiver Mike Evans’ one-game suspension.

Winston also said that he had his throwing shoulder examined by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Winston admitted he needs to exhibit better control of his emotions after he pushed Marshon Lattimore from behind, prompting the New Orleans Saints rookie cornerback to turn his attention toward him. Evans, presumably in a bid to defend the injured Winston, drilled Lattimore from behind in an action that set off fireworks between the NFC South rivals.

"I just want to apologize on behalf of my teammates and Mike Evans for the incident that happened in the Saints game. That’s something I can’t do in the heat of the moment," Winston said, via ESPN. "My competitive nature (took over). Obviously I can’t come off the field and make any gesture towards an opponent, let alone touch them. I can’t do that, so I apologize for that."

Winston said he’s not surprised that coach Dirk Koetter suggested both he and Evans should have been ejected and also admitted that he expects to be fined for the incident.

Winston initially sustained an AC joint sprain in his right shoulder in a 38-33 loss at the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 15. The top overall pick of the 2015 draft then aggravated the injury in Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Saints.

Two days later, Winston visited Andrews’ office in Pensacola, Fla.,

"(The visit) was standard protocol. … All the doctors are working together to come up with what they think (is best). All I know is that for the next two weeks, I’m going to be rehabbing and getting my shoulder to 100 percent," Winston said.

Koetter announced Monday that Winston will be shut down "for a couple weeks" to rest his injured throwing shoulder.

Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start for the Buccaneers (2-6) on Sunday against his former team — the New York Jets (4-5). The 34-year-old veteran completed 8 of 15 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in relief of Winston on Sunday.

Winston has thrown for 1,920 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games this season. He has passed for 10,052 yards with 60 TDs and 39 picks in 40 career contests.

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Three Top Boca Raton FL Restaurants You Will Enjoy If You Stop By

Part of Palm Beach County, Boca Raton is a wonderful choice for a nice Florida vacation. What are your favorite foods? No doubt, you can find them while spending time in the city, which features over 600 restaurants. Let’s look at three of the top restaurants in Boca Raton FL and see if you don’t want to make them pit stops while vacationing in the ‘City for all Seasons.’

Farmer’s Table Boca is the first top restaurant in Boca Raton, and it is located on North Military Trail. How does an Apple Crisp sound? What about a skirt steak or short ribs? Also, if you like organic and vegan, this is said to be a great stop for you. I didn’t notice that at first glance, but people mention it in the reviews. Why not stop for brunch at Farmer’s Table Boca?

Relish & More also looks like a really nice stop. It is located on NE 5th Avenue, and honestly, I picked this spot because I like relish of all kinds. No doubt this is a top ranked establishment in Boca Raton, however, as I didn’t pick it from a hat. It has a #12 ranking, and guess what, it is one of the best places in the city to grab a burger. You are talking about delicious donuts and shakes, too. Just saying all of this doesn’t do it justice because the place really seems like something special according to the reviews.

There is room for one more pick, and then I have to sign off. The Whale’s Rib is the spot, and it is located on NE 2nd Street. This establishment is one of the places you go in the city if you are in the mood for fresh seafood. As you make your way around Boca Raton FL, keep these three fine establishments in mind.

FL Battalion Chief Mourned after Fatal Crash

Sarasota County Battalion Chief Bill Kocur.

Oct. 17–SARASOTA COUNTY, FL– When Sarasota County Battalion Chief William “Billy” Kocur was at a fire, nothing could go wrong. He was always on top of making sure everyone knew their jobs, according to Assistant Chief and longtime friend Rod VanOrsdol.

“He was a supporter of his line personnel and an extremely confident firefighter,” VanOrsdol said. “He could run a structure fire call to the ninth degree of perfection.”

Kocur, 63, a lifelong Sarasota resident, served the Sarasota County Fire Department for 25 years before his death this weekend in a motorcycle accident in Georgia.

Kocur was visiting his family’s cabin. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Riding motorcycles was his passion, VanOrsdol explained.

“It’s tough to even think about,” VanOrsdol said. “We all kind of think of ourselves as being Teflon — those kinds of things don’t happen to us. They happen to other people and we go and we take care of them.”

Kocur and his wife were members of a motorcycle club and were often at events such as Thunder by the Bay. They had a son and a daughter and one grandchild.

About 10 years ago, Kocur started to teach himself the bagpipes, according to his daughter Hally Kocur.

“He actually got pretty good at them,” she said. “He was in great shape and very active.”

Kocur enjoyed boating, as well, and he was a Mason. He was a member of the Widow’s Sons Masonic Riders Association.

“He’s helped countless people,” Hally Kocur said. “He was an amazing man. He had a great sense of humor. He was a loving husband, father, a wonderful grandfather.”

He was Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s New Year’s baby of 1954.

Kocur first joined the Bradenton Fire Department, but in April 1992 he was hired by the Sarasota County Metro Fire Department — an agency that existed before the city and county merged.

Kocur was the lieutenant at Station No. 1 beginning in 2005 and was promoted to Battalion Chief in 2013. He served as the Battalion Chief for Stations No. 3, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 23. He was also heavily involved in training personnel and supervision.

VanOrsdol said Kocur’s sudden death is affecting the entire Sarasota County fire service “family” as news of his death is passed along.

“Twenty-five years is a pinnacle,” VanOrsdol said. “He reached that and to be that you become one of the rocks — this community lost a rock and a stable base of the fire department.”

Kocur had planned to retire in March.

“Everybody will miss his mustache,” he said. “The guy had the best mustache in the whole department and the smirk that went beneath it. … That’s classic Billy Kocur.”

A celebration of Kocur’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 at Sahib Shrine Temple, 600 N. Beneva Road. The family has asked, in lieu of flowers or anything else, that donations be made to the Sarasota Firefighters Benevolent Fund.

___ (c)2017 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla. Visit Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla. at www.heraldtribune.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Tampa Bay at Florida

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers open their seasons with a back-to-back home-and-home series, and as the rivalry moves to Sunrise, Fla., there was much to appreciate in the new looks on both sides in Friday’s season opener.

The Lightning pulled out a 5-3 win, and while much of the attention coming in was on the healthy return of Steven Stamkos, the buzz after the game was the line of Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde. Palat had two goals and Point had a goal and two assists, showing speed and chemistry together on the ice.

“They were fantastic,” Stamkos said. “I think it was pretty evident in watching the game how good they were. They pound the puck, they make great plays, and they’re all smart players. That line carried us and played extremely well, and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.”

Florida, after a strong preseason, came out on the short end, rallying to tie the game going into the third but giving up three goals in the final period. It was an encouraging debut in the first game under new coach Bob Boughner.

“We had a really good training camp with him getting familiar with everyone,” defenseman Keith Yandle said. “The coaching staff does a great job getting the message through to us. It’s nice to have them getting us to be comfortable with the system and knowing it so it comes like second nature.”

The Lightning had their first Opening Night with Andrei Vasilevskiy in net, and he made early saves to keep Tampa Bay in control until the scoring kicked in later. When a two-goal lead dwindled to one and Florida picked up a power play with 3:11 to play, he stepped up, preserving the lead until an empty-net goal could put it away.

“When he was 21 years old, he played in the Stanley Cup final in the United Center. This was probably a walk in the park for him,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “He was composed. The more you watch him play, you get that feeling of ‘This guy is going to be hard to score on.'”

The Lightning got a promising debut from 19-year-old rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as well, while the Panthers showed off their depth, with eight different players getting a goal or assist.

“There were good efforts tonight throughout the entire lineup,” Boughner said. “Tomorrow night we get back out there and that’s the best thing about it. If we play like that again, I like our chances.”

Florida contained Stamkos to one assist and that came on a power-play goal, but that was a tiebreaking goal early in the third that put Tampa Bay ahead for good.

“It ended up being a power-play goal that broke our back, but we knew coming in that we had to try to be disciplined and not let them get on the power play,” Boughner said.

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Carrollwood-Northdale, FL Real Estate: Newly Listed for Sale

The houses for sale in and around Carrollwood-Northdale are just a small portion of more than 4 million homes sold in Florida and across the United States every year. We’re not just talking listed homes for sale, either. We’re talking about homes for sale — that sell.

Looking for a home to buy? Or do you just like looking at what homes are on the market? Either way, here are the latest homes for sale in and around Carrollwood-Northdale listed by our partners at realtor.com.

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Have You Visited Florida Lately?

The state of Florida is an awesome place to visit and many people love it so much that they end up calling it home. Regardless of whether you want to live in FL or not, however, it certainly is an area that is worth the visit. That is especially true if you live in the northern states and you are chilled by the winter weather. A trip to Florida can be a welcome relief and it can help you to get a little bit of warmth in the middle of the winter months.

You don’t really need to travel far into Florida in order to begin enjoying some of what it has to offer. Most people who come to Florida are going to come down the East Coast on I-95 and just across the Florida line is Jacksonville. This city is an excellent place to stop and it has a lot to offer to those who are interested in taking a vacation. You can even visit the Jacksonville Beaches and head south from there.

Traveling south in FL from Jacksonville, you will soon pass a number of East Coast vacation destinations, including Daytona Beach. This is another excellent opportunity for you to stop, take a look at the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy some sunshine. Don’t stay too long, however, because you want to travel even further south until you get south of West Palm Beach.

Once you hit the area of West Palm Beach, you are entering into what many people refer to as “South FL.” There are so many things to see and do from Fort Lauderdale and Miami all the way down to the keys. This is a vacation of a lifetime and if you are dealing with colder weather in the northern states, it can warm your bones and provide you with plenty of sunshine memories.

At Tampa Fundraiser, Rick Kriseman Celebrates Regional Cooperation

Although not universally embraced (most prominently by some conservative Hillsborough Republicans), most observers considered the Cross-Bay Ferry pilot project last winter and spring a success.

The ferry was also a positive example of the region coming together on at least one project to deal with the vexing issue of transportation.

Championing the plan, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman went hat-in-hand to local governments in Hillsborough, Tampa, Pinellas and his own City Council to raise $350,000 in total to get the project off the ground.

At Tampa’s Mise en Place Thursday night, the mayor celebrated the collaboration.

“There was a $1.6 million impact on our communities,” he said, calling it a first step in the path of continued cooperation to improve a desultory transit system in the Tampa Bay region.

“If we want to keep our millennials to stay here,” he added, “if we want to attract businesses here, we have to talk transit. And we just can’t talk about it, we have to do something about it … and we did it in a way that it hadn’t been done before.”

The mayoral campaign in St. Pete is moving to Tampa this week.

While Thursday’s Tampa fundraiser — before a group of about 30 progressive Democrats — was his second such event this summer, Kriseman’s chief opponent, Rick Baker, will also trek to Tampa Friday morning to speak during Cafe Con Tampa at the Oxford Exchange.

Now down to the last 18 days of the primary, the only suspense in the race is whether Kriseman can hold Baker below 50 percent, giving him two more months to chip away at a lead Baker has maintained since before entering the race in May.

Throughout his ten minute speech, Kriseman lightly chided Baker, saying that he was proud of the deal that he made with the Tampa Bay Rays which allowed them to speak with officials in Hillsborough County. He remains confident that the team will ultimately choose to return to a redeveloped Tropicana Field.

Baker said he would not have made that deal.

And without name-checking Baker, Kriseman said the public would always know where he stands on the issues.

“I’ll answer questions. I’ll answer questionnaires. I’ll answer questions during debates even if they’re uncomfortable,” he said. “I think that it’s important that the community who’s electing a mayor knows what their values are, their beliefs are, knows what their principals are and that person communicates what those things are.”

Team Kriseman (and now the Florida Democratic Party) are emphasizing how Baker isn’t saying much about the latest actions from the president of the United States, beginning with the fact that he has not said if voted for Donald Trump. Whether that argument works in a race with plenty of local issues remains unclear.

Kriseman also talked about his belief in man-made climate change and that he was the first St. Pete mayor to hang the Pride (and Carter G. Woodson African American) flag over City Hall.

The Democrat also bemoaned record levels of campaign spending in the race; he’d rather see the money go to nonprofit groups to help bring people out of poverty or assist those who are mentally ill and homeless, but hey, the system is what it is, so he has to compete, because to date he’s being outgunned in that category.

Baker leads the financial arms race, raising nearly $600,000 for his political action committee, and $355,000 on his own.

Comparatively, Kriseman raised $324,000 from his political action committee, and $352,000 on his own.

Among local Democrats in attendance for the event were Ed Turanchik, Pat Kemp, John Dingfelder, Mark Hanisee, Gary and Jane Gibbons and Ione Townsend.


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Tampa Bay is Due for a Major Hurricane. the Area is Not Prepared

Mark Luther’s dream home has a window that looks out to a world of water. He can slip out the back door and watch dolphins swim by his private dock. Shore birds squawk from nearby nests in giant mangroves.

He said it’s hard to imagine ever leaving this slice of paradise on St. Petersburg’s Bayou Grande, even though the water he adores is starting to get a little creepy.

Over the 24 years since he moved into the house, the bayou has inched up a protective sea wall and crept toward his front door. As sea level rises, a result of global warming, it contributes to flooding in his Venetian Isle neighborhood and Shore Acres, a neighboring community of homes worth up to $2.5 million, about 70 times per year.

“Why stay?” asked Luther, an oceanographer who knows perfectly well a hurricane could one day shove 15 feet of water into his living room. “It’s just so nice.”

Tampa Bay is mesmerizing, with 700 miles of shoreline and some of the finest white sand beaches in the nation. But analysts say the metropolitan area is the most vulnerable in the United States to flooding and damage if a major hurricane ever scores a direct hit.

A Boston firm that analyzes potential catastrophic damage reported that the region would lose $175 billion in a storm the size of Hurricane Katrina. A World Bank study called Tampa Bay one of the 10 most at-risk areas on the globe.

Yet the bay area — greater Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater — has barely begun to assess the rate of sea-level rise and address its effects. Its slow response to a major threat is a case study in how American cities reluctantly prepare for the worst, even though signs of impacts from climate change abound all around.

State leaders could be part of the reason. Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has discouraged employees from using the words “climate change” in official communications. Last month, the Republican-controlled state legislature approved bills allowing any citizen to challenge textbooks and instructional materials, including those that teach the science of evolution and global warming.

The sea in Tampa Bay has risen naturally throughout time, about an inch per decade. But in the early 1990s, scientists say, it accelerated to several inches above normal, so much that recent projections have the bay rising between six inches and more than two feet by the middle of the century and up to nearly seven feet when it ends. On top of that, natural settling is causing land to slowly sink.

Sea-level rise worsens the severity of even small storms, adding to the water that can be pushed ashore. Hard rains now regularly flood neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater.

Waterfront expansion

By a stroke of gambler’s luck, Tampa Bay hasn’t suffered a direct hit from a hurricane as powerful as a category 3 or higher in nearly a century. Tampa has doubled down on a bet that another won’t strike anytime soon, investing billions of dollars in high-rise condominiums along the waterfront and shipping port upgrades and expanding a hospital on an island in the middle of the bay to make it one of the largest in the state.

Once-sleepy St. Petersburg has gradually followed suit, adorning its downtown coast with high-rise condominiums, new shops and hotels. The city is in the final stages of a plan to build a $45 million pier as a major attraction that would extend out into the bay.

Worried that area leaders weren’t adequately focused on the downside of living in a tropic, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council reminded them of the risks by simulating a worst-case scenario hurricane, a category 5 with winds exceeding 156 miles per hour, to demonstrate what would happen if it entered the Gulf of Mexico and turned their way.

The fictitious Phoenix hurricane scenario projects that wind damage would destroy nearly half a million homes and businesses. About 2 million residents would require medical treatment, and the estimated death toll, more than 2,000, would top the number of people who perished from Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Florida’s most densely populated county, Pinellas, could be sliced in half by a wave of water. The low-lying county of about a million is growing so fast that there’s no land left to develop, and main roads and an interstate connecting it to Tampa get clogged with traffic even on a clear day.

“If a hurricane 4 or 5 hit us,” St. Petersburg City Council Chairman Darden Rice said, referring to the two highest category storms, “there’s no doubt about it. The plan is you’d better get out of Dodge.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s warning was even starker. Standing outside City Hall last year, he described what would happen if a hurricane as small as a category 3 with 110 to 130 mile per hour winds hit downtown.

“Where you’re standing now would be 15 feet under water,” he said.

Predicting the damage

Video simulations of hurricanes that strafed Florida but missed Tampa Bay look like an epic game of dodgeball.

“It’s like we’re in this sweet spot. It’s like we’re blessed somehow, protected,” said Allison Yeh, a planner for Hillsborough County in Tampa.

The last direct hit from a category 3 in 1921 left the area in ruins, but few people lived there then. A single death was recorded.

Now, with 4 million residents and gleaming new infrastructure, the stakes are higher, and Yeh and her fellow planners are wary. They know a major hurricane like one of several that barely missed the bay in recent years would have a devastating effect.

There are few hurricane-proof buildings in the bay area. One is a gallery, the Salvador Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg with 18-inch-thick concrete walls and pressured glass supported by steel frames that could withstand anything the aforementioned storms could dish out. The building supervisor could stand at the windows and watch a hurricane pass as though it were on the Weather Channel.

The Dali Museum looks out over Tampa Bay. The museum houses a rare collection of paintings by the surrealist artists Salvador Dali worth millions of dollars. The building was designed to withstand a major hurricane.

Zoeann Murphy The Washington Post

The museum is better protected than one of the largest hospitals in the state, Tampa General, which sits on Davis Islands, a spit of earth that was dredged from muck at the bottom of the bay a few years after the last hurricane hit. Buckhorn said a category 3 hurricane would level the island’s houses, including his own.

Tampa General has a thorough evacuation plan, indoor generators that can supply energy for several days and safe floors with reinforced walls and windows.

But parts of two bridges that lead to and from the island would be cut off by floodwaters, a concern of officials in spite of assurances by the hospital’s managers that there’s a contingency for that too.

Floridians view hurricanes with the same bravado of Oklahomans who face tornados and Californians who brave earthquakes and wildfire: They come with the territory, a fact of life in a tropic, they say.

But other problems are less abstract than big hurricanes. Sea-level rise doesn’t need a megastorm to make its presence felt.

“Even when we don’t take a direct hit, even when its a tropical storm or a category 1, the rain it delivers to our city puts enormous stress on our rainwater and sewer collection system,” Rice said.

Water is bubbling up all over Florida. Within the next 12 years, according to an assessment by a group of researchers, Risky Business, the value of state property that will vanish under encroaching water could reach $15 billion. By 2050, it could reach $23 billion.

Climate change issues

Along the barrier islands that lured more than 6 million tourists who spent nearly $10 billion last year, governments spend a mix of local and federal to renourish beaches lost to erosion that even a tropical storm can cause.

“The bay’s getting higher and the bay needs to go somewhere else. But there’s nowhere for the water to go,” said Mark Hafen, a University of South Florida associate professor who specializes in environmental science and coastal planning.

A team of planners in Hillsborough County said they fight against the potential impact of rising water every day, creating alternative bus routes and detours for flooded roads and trying to get the message out to residents in low-lying areas that their homes could be ruined.

“You live in a paradise and that’s wonderful, but it has storms,” said Eugene Henry, mitigation manager for Hillsborough County. He preaches about improved coastal inspection, color-coded warnings for residents depending on how low their homes are in a flood zone, making them more aware of the threat so they can take steps to protect themselves.

“If the inevitable monster storm comes, it’s not going to keep you safe from 30 feet of storm surge,” he said, but they’ll know when the tide rises to put shutters up. New structures built on the Florida coast, along with homes seeking major renovations, are mandated to have three feet of clearance from floodwaters.

One of the largest hospitals in the state, Tampa General, sits on Davis Islands, a spit of earth that was dredged from muck at the bottom of the bay a few years after the last hurricane hit.

Eve Edelheit The Washington Post

Planners in Tampa Bay are noticing that floodwater is sticking around longer. As the water rises, it’s filling huge outfall pipes, pushing water that would flow down a storm drain back onto streets.

Tampa and Hillsborough County officials have considered levying a tax to help fix a growing problem, but in a state where Republicans opposed to taxes control the governor’s office and the legislature, that’s a tough sell.

“We do have a real challenge with our storm water drainage system,” said Beth Alden, the executive director of Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, which recently spent millions to clear huge pipes blocked by barnacles left by increasingly swollen tides. “This isn’t a glamorous expenditure, something you’re going to go have a ribbon cutting for.

“It’s something that if we don’t have the funding to keep up, it’s not going to be there. What we’ve been seeing is a very conservative state legislature that has been coming out and trying to reduce the ability of local governments to levy taxes.”

In Hafen’s eyes, there’s an additional problem, one that officials who work at the pleasure of politicians are reluctant to discuss.

“We’ve had a really hard time getting buy-in on sea-level rise on this side of the bay,” Hafen said. “Hillsborough County and Tampa are super conservative. They’re burying their heads in the sand.”

Pinellas County, on the other side of the bay, is more progressive about addressing climate change impacts, Hafen said. But that didn’t happen until fairly recently. It took a nerdy University of Florida county extension agent to help open everyone’s eyes.

Sea-level rising

Elizabeth Carnahan was plucked from academia by the county’s director of sustainable living. Her new role was to focus on climate change and engage with others to make the county more resilient to its impacts, and Carnahan took it seriously.

But Carnahan didn’t see a lot of area collaboration in planning.

“They weren’t doing a lot to address climate change and sea-level rise,” she said. “They were willing, but no one was going to the head of the pack to take it on.”

But they were elsewhere, in Gulf coast states that were hit by Hurricane Katrina and the South Florida area of Fort Lauderdale and Miami that was raked by hurricanes constantly in the first years of the new century.

Carnahan dropped in on their meetings, talked to planners and listened to their sea-level rise projections and vulnerability assessments. After three years of networking outside the bay, she gathered what she considered the best ideas she heard and imported them to Pinellas County.

The county sponsored a three-hour workshop at the Weedon Island Preserve that Mark Luther can see from his flood-risk home. After that gathering, Carnahan noticed a change in officials in the 30 cities in Pinellas County.

“I could see them calling each other a lot more to share what each other were doing,” she said. Watching this, Carnahan’s boss, Mary Campbell, floated an idea to get scientists together to make climate related recommendations to local governments.

That group became the Climate Science Advisory Panel. Within months, they helped establish the One Bay Resilient Community, looping Hillsborough and Pasco counties into a network that works on climate related problems.

Tampa Bay now produces a climate report that compares to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Assessment, offering projections for sea-level rise specifically for their region. It is used to plan bridges and roads, to site government buildings that are supposed to last at least 75 years.

Living in near-poverty in Clearwater, Jessica Lopez said she has little time to worry about a threat that might arrive years down the road. For her, the future is now.

Last year around June, she fell asleep as rain pounded her mobile home and awoke to a terrifying sight. The rain hadn’t stopped, and water from an overflowing creek had climbed the stairs to her front door.

Lopez, her husband, Matt, and their daughter, Aurora, were trapped. Water was four feet deep in places, up to her neck. She was six months pregnant with a second daughter.

At least two venomous water moccasins swam past a trailer. A community septic tank that sits directly behind Lopez’s back window flooded. “The feces,” she said, “was everywhere.” She put her head in her hands. “It was so gross.”

The problem got worse. Wet dirt shifted under her trailer, causing it to tilt. Lopez worried they would not survive.

But Pinellas County rescuers quickly rushed to the scene. The county is so flood prone that the Mariners Cove Mobile Home Park is one of numerous “hot spots” that emergency management department officials watch closely when it storms.

“We know at those locations if we get too much rain and get high tide, we know they’re vulnerable,” said Kelli Hammer Levy, director of the county’s environmental management division.

Three months later, Mariners Cove Mobile Home Park flooded again when Tropical Storm Hermine took a swipe at Tampa Bay.

Now Lopez is frightened whenever it rains. “You hear when it starts to storm and you can’t sleep,” she said. “I’m constantly worried now when it floods and the dirt shifts, it’ll tilt us more and more sideways.”

She and her husband had no idea that the mobile park home was a county hot spot when they moved there about a year ago. Like several residents there, she said managers didn’t include that information when they signed leases for the land where their trailers sat.

A major hurricane could have a devastating impact on Tampa Bay, one of the most vulnerable areas in the country to rising seas and extreme weather.

Eve Edelheit The Washington Post

The county’s floodplain coordinator told Levy that notifying potential tenants of a flood risk is recommended but not required. Renters and lease holders are often left in the dark.

Leaving is not much of an option, Lopez said. “If we were to move without paying off the trailer, they would undo everything we’ve done. We’ve paid about $2,000. They would just void that.”

Repetitive flooding is so dire that county officials considered buying out the mobile home leasers and relocating them but lacked the funds, Levy said. The county had already spent $300,000 to purchase nearly three dozen homes near McKay and Allen creeks in Largo and relocate the owners.

In Shore Acres, the wealthy community next to Mark Luther’s neighborhood, residents are much better informed about the area’s flooding, and have far more options.

Like Lopez, they’re staying. Many Venetian Isle and Shore Acres residents have poured thousands of dollars into homes to accent their bayou views.

But it might be a trap.

Nearly all of Shore Acres is considered a repetitive loss area where homes have flooded more than once and required compensation from insurers. Street flooding happens after rains and high tides.

Eighty percent of homes in the area are what planners call “slab-on-grade.” It means their living rooms are one step from the ground or less. More than 1,500 are subject to flooding, according to an analysis of repetitive loss flooding by the city of St. Petersburg.

Since 1978, 29 homes have made 129 flood insurance claims totaling $2.9 million. A significant flood or a catastrophic storm could ruin a thousand more, triggering major insurance claims.

St. Petersburg, like Tampa, is spending millions in an attempt to clear storm drains that are supposed to collect water from streets and dump it back into Tampa Bay. The city is also imploring owners of slab-on-grade homes to consider building mounds to raise them three feet from the ground.

It’s a tough sell for someone like Luther, whose home was built long before anyone started talking about accelerated sea-level rise.

“I’m not sure you can elevate this type of house,” he said. “It’s U-shaped and fairly large, 3,700 square feet.” Luther’s house is brick with terrazzo floors “that would crack to pieces.”

But there’s one option that Venetian Isle residents have that Lopez in her Clearwater trailer park does not, and Luther is considering it. The real estate market in paradise is hot, and he can sell.

“People who want to live on the waterfront will always live on the waterfront,” Luther said, a reference to the rich. “Every house on my street that sold within the past 10 years, they’ve knocked it down and built a 10,000 or 12,000 square foot mini-mansion on top of it.”

Carnahan seconded that. On the edge of Tampa Bay, where the danger from a colossal storm is worse, homes Venetian Isle and flood prone Shore Acres are still being snatched up.

“I can’t believe what houses here are selling for,” she said.

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Plumber in Tallahassee FL Expands Services

Mr. Rooter of Tallahassee, a plumbing company in Tallahassee, FL, has announced the expansion of its available services. Already known as the most courteous and friendly Plumber in Tallahassee FL residents can go to, it has now ensured that no one in the community ever has to search for a different plumber again. The company has indicated that it is committed to providing the most high quality and diverse services when it comes to the city’s plumbing needs.

The owner of Mr. Rooter of Tallahassee FL says: “We aim to be a neighborly company, one that is professional, courteous, and fair every step of the way. We also aim to make sure that people know they can come to us for any plumbing job, which is why we have expanded our services so that we can now take on any kind of plumbing job. There is a reason why they call us Mr., and we encourage people to find that out for themselves.”

When in need of Plumbers in Tallahassee FL residents are particularly grateful for the quick response time and round the clock availability of Mr. Rooter of Tallahassee Florida. While originally a company that performed plumbing repairs, they now also offer help with clogged drains, drain cleaning, and plumbing diagnosis and inspection. They are a locally owned and operated company, which means they understand the plumbing lines across the area, as well as the particular challenges. Additionally, they have made sure that they are available 24/7, so that people can get help as fast as possible or when it is convenient for them.

One customer says on the company website: “Josh was a ‘good Southern gentleman’ the entire visit. More importantly, his work was very professional and thorough. Moreover, he determined that the problem rested with the city utilities – saving us both time and money.”

When requiring Plumbing in Tallahassee FL residents and businesses know that Mr. Rooter is the place to go. The company offers services for both residential and commercial properties, as well as emergency services. They encourage those with plumbing requirements to contact them to make a convenient appointment.

SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]

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