MANATEE — Trevor McKee and his wife, Jennifer, expect a timid knock at the door every time a heavy rain falls on their Cape Vista neighborhood.
It means the standing water that floods 52nd Street Court West has claimed another victim.
The McKees have learned to venture out only in their pickup truck or sport utility vehicle when the water rises. Their 2004 red Corvette stays high and dry up near the house.
But drivers unfamiliar with the area sometimes try to navigate the 3-foot-high stream, forcing a red-faced request to the McKees for help.
“You can’t get out. You’d ruin your car,” Trevor McKee said. “You’ll see, every time someone will try to make it.”
McKee said the flooding, caused by poor storm-water drainage in the area, has been constant since the family moved into their home on 52nd Street Court West almost seven years ago. During one storm, he and neighbors helped four separate motorists with waterlogged vehicles, he said.
The most recent flooding came after last Sunday’s heavy rains, prodding the McKees to seek a solution.
“This has been an ongoing thing,” McKee said. “The city won’t take care of it; the county won’t take care of it. They say it’s not their problem.”
But Manatee County Public Works Director Ron Schulhofer acknowledged storm drainage in that area is a county responsibility. Schulhofer said his department was unaware of the problem.
“If it’s ours, it’s ours. ... We’ll have someone check on that,” he said.
Chad Butzow, the county’s deputy public works director, said the stormwater from 52nd Street Court West drains north to 38th Avenue, west to 54th Street West and into G.T. Bray park, where it empties into a creek. He said a cursory examination of the pipes shows no drainage issues.
But public works personnel plan to visit the area after the next heavy rainfall, he said.
McKee, a 44-year-old disc jockey who works at Joyland country dance hall, has lived with his wife and 13-year-old son Josh at their Cape Vista home since November 2003. McKee is the president of the Cape Vista Civic Homeowners Association.
He said storm drain pipes were replaced in the neighborhood two years ago, but water continues to collect on the street, affecting about 15 homes on 52nd Street Court West. After the rain subsides, drains eventually open, and the water quickly recedes.
“When it’s all done raining, it (the water) just sits still,” McKee said. “Sometimes you can even feel it in the house when it opens up. Then it just starts sucking away.”
McKee said the drainage creates whirlpools between 2 and 3 feet wide surrounding the two storm drains near his home.
He worries a small child walking to nearby Moody Elementary School may be injured if he or she is sucked down in a whirlpool.
McKee also is concerned about the street itself. It was repaved in 2009, but already is showing signs of wear, he said.
“It’s ruining the roads again,” he said. “I don’t think that asphalt was made to be under water that many times.”