NEW PUMPING STATION WILL RELIEVE SAN MARCO FLOODS; the New System Will Mean Ronald McDonald House Won't Be Cut Off

By Strickland, Sandy | The Florida Times Union, July 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

NEW PUMPING STATION WILL RELIEVE SAN MARCO FLOODS; the New System Will Mean Ronald McDonald House Won't Be Cut Off


Strickland, Sandy, The Florida Times Union


Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

As a steady drizzle fell under lead-gray clouds, Mayor John Peyton said he couldn't have wished for better weather.

After all, Peyton was celebrating the completion of a new pumping station expected to stem recurring flooding in an area of San Marco. So the non-Chamber-of-Commerce skies helped "to make our point," he said during last week's ceremony.

The pump station is near Ronald McDonald House and Nemours Children's Clinic at the end of Children's Way. The almost-$5 million project will drain Children's Way, Phillips and Cedar streets and LeBaron and Palm avenues.

For decades, torrential rains usually meant flooding in areas of San Marco, particularly at high tide when the St. Johns River rose higher than the pipes meant to drain the water off the streets.

The new station, which pumps 50,000 gallons a minute, takes in water and pumps it back into the river, avoiding street flooding. Construction on the 18-month project started in late 2006 on riverfront land donated by Nemours.

Several officials from Ronald McDonald House attended the ceremony and said heavy rain thankfully doesn't hold the threat it once did.

"It's such a relief to know that we won't have a moat around the Ronald McDonald House ever again," said Joy Hardaker, executive director of the facility, which provides lodging for families of critically ill children receiving medical care.

Since the house was constructed on Children's Way seven years ago, it's had to close several times due to flooding, Hardaker said.

"It was such an imposition," she said. "The families were already concerned over their sick child, but the stress that the water in the streets added to their lives is hopefully gone. We're so pleased it's finished. …

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