SOUTH TAMPA - Even moderate rain used to mean flooding on Alline Avenue and nearby Coachman Avenue.
Water would pool in the roadways, sometimes creeping up into homes. Residents couldn't drive their cars in or out of the neighborhood, which sits in a former lake basin.
But in the last few months, since the city installed a $4.82 million pump, water hasn't been a problem, neighbors say.
The pump station - disguised as a white house at 2921 W. Alline Ave. - has passed its first tests, said city public works director Irvin Lee.
"We had quite a bit of rain last month to take it through it's shakedown cruise, so to speak," Lee said. "It's done wonderfully."
Work began on the station in 2011 and the pump has been operating since January. It is hidden in a city-owned, 1,200-square-foot "house"a few blocks north of Bayshore Boulevard, complete with landscaping, chimney and backup generators.
The large underground pumps drain the storm water from within about a five-mile radius into Hillsborough Bay off Bayshore Boulevard. Backflow protectors keep saltwater from entering the drainage pipes during high tide.
"The entire system, not only the pumps themselves, has performed as advertised," Lee said.
But it is not a quick fix for other area flooding issues, like backups on Bayshore Boulevard after heavy storms and high tide. There are a number of reasons why Bayshore floods the way it does, he said.
The primary goal of the pump is to keep water from washing into nearby homes, Lee said.
"It sure helps, but it is not a magic bullet for Bayshore flooding," he said.
Audrey Walden, who lives on the block, said she just got back from a trip out of the country the other day, and she couldn't see any flooding or drainage problems in the neighborhood.
"There's no water in my house and I usually hear from the neighbors if it's bad," she said.
Jim Handly, who lives at the corner of Alline and Bayshore, said there hasn't been any flooding after all the rain this week. Water never got into his home before the pump was installed, but he remembers hearing from neighbors who found fish in their garage or whose cars had washed out of their driveways.
The streets is dry thanks to the new pump.
"Whatever it's supposed to do, it's doing," Handly said.