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Rain forces 112 from care unit

Published April 27, 2005

DUNEDIN - Heavy rains Tuesday evening forced the evacuation of 112 residents from an elder care facility after water began flowing in through the roof.

The rains, combined with faulty drains, caused about 4 inches of water to accumulate on the flat roof of the two-story Manor Care building at 870 Patricia Ave.

Emergency workers eventually cleared most of the drains, but enough water had flowed into the building to short out the fire alarm and compromise the electrical system. The flooding soaked all the ceiling tiles in at least one wing of the building.

"The drains weren't working. Our guys used plungers to get them cleared out," said Dunedin division fire Chief Chris Bengivengo. "But once that water piled up, it had no where to go but inside the building."

None of the 112 evacuees were hurt. They were transported in vans, buses and ambulances to a Manor Care facility in Palm Harbor.

"This is blessing as much as anything," said Barry Goldsmith, a meteorologist at National Weather Service in Ruskin. "It helps stop fires, it's good for growers and nurseries and the like, and it's good for lawns.

As of midnight, more than 1.5 inches had fallen Tuesday in Tampa, nearly the average for April, which is 1.8. At St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport, 1.4 inches was recorded.

"The good news is that any kind of rain or front in late April or early May helps to limit the possibility of drier conditions that lead to fires," said Goldsmith.

More rain is possible this morning as remnants of the huge storm system continue to move ashore. The rains should end by noon today, with skies gradually clearing.

[Last modified April 27, 2005, 00:47:14]

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