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During listening session, exasperated St. Pete flood victims ask city to do more

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As a widow and mom of four kids, Jennifer Connell-Wandstrat has enough to worry about, but right now, her stress load is even bigger.

“The stress level is through the roof,” she said. “I mean, trauma responses where you just don’t even have any emotions anymore because you’ve just gone through them all.”

Her biggest worry right now is her neighborhood and what happens to it during storms and periods of high tide.

“We’ve flooded twice in the last three years,” she said.

She lives in Shore Acres, which is just one of the St. Petersburg neighborhoods that experiences frequent flooding that Mayor Ken Welch says is getting worse.

“And it’s evident that we are seeing elevated impacts from sea level rise and climate change,” the mayor said.

In a Tuesday night meeting, Mayor Welch and city leaders outlined what the city is doing in response, including stormwater infrastructure upgrading, frequently clearing drains and sweeping streets, and studying which areas are most vulnerable and need immediate fixes.

“We are putting together an elevated response,” Welch said.

However, during the meeting, city leaders also took time to listen and heard frustration, exasperation, and desperation.