Pasco County Sees Additional Evacuations as Flooding Continues

Aug 5, 2015
Originally published on August 4, 2015 6:25 pm

While two residents in the flooded Port Richey neighborhood of Gulf Highlands chose to evacuate their homes, others, like Craig Caley, stayed behind.

Caley's house is one of several on Ashwood Drive boxed in by water that is waist deep at its worst. Caley said residents could slowly drive to work or for groceries through the flooding last week, but by Sunday night, they were stuck. 

Caley's home didn't flood, but his car did. He moved it from the garage to the street to keep people from driving through the neighborhood and sending waves of floodwater from the pavement into homes. 

"I had just nodded off Sunday night and my wife woke up and she's like, "what's your car doing in the middle of the road? It's getting flooded,'" Caley said.

"I'm like, 'oh, you're kidding' so I get up and look out and there's water coming up to the bottom of the door and I'm like 'oh man' so I quick run out and open the door and had like six gallons of water come into my car."

Caley isn't too concerned about his car. That's what a shop vac is for, he said. What does bother him is a light pole that started leaning this weekend after flooding started to erode the dirt around its foundation.

He says calls to the county have been made but its difficult for utility vehicles to access the street. 

Anclote River flood waters are expected to rise as drainage from the weekend’s weather percolates through the water basins.

Officials said they cannot relieve the situation through pumping, because the rivers, streams and ground are saturated and all of the water storage areas and retention ponds are full. There is no place for the county to try and pump water to.

Any additional rainfall in the next few days will impact roads, yards and structures. Areas that were affected by flooding last week are expected to be impacted again today.

As flood waters continued to rise in other neighborhoods, Pasco County Fire and Rescue and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office evacuated residents as a precaution.

Residents at the Oaks View apartments at Highwater Drive in New Port Richey were asked to evacuate today. The Anclote River Estates community received an evacuation order Monday morning. Duke Energy has cut power to Oaks View apartments as the air conditioning units are currently in standing water.

A mobile home park in New Port Richey has been evacuated, with Duke Energy cutting power to that community as a precaution as well. 

Shelters were opened at the First Presbyterian Church on Ridge Road in Port Richey and St. Marks Presbyterian Church, on State Road 52 in Hudson.

There are currently 42 people at the two shelters, but neither shelters accept pets. Some Pasco residents refuse to evacuate their homes because they won't leave their furry family members behind. 

Pasco County opened a second evacuation shelter for victims of flooding this week, but neither welcome furry family members.

Rita Zimmerman's Port Richey home was partially flooded over the weekend. She said evacuating her house is not an option when she can't take her pets with her.

"I can't find a shelter that'll take my cats and my mother already has her limit of cats, legally, for where she lives so I'll be here until I can find homes for my cats," Zimmerman said. 

The only shelter in Pasco that accepts cats and dogs is the Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter on Denton Avenue in Hudson, but it only opens for hurricanes. UPDATE: The Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter, 11611 Denton Ave. Hudson, is now the only shelter open in Pasco County as of 5 p.m. Tuesday. 

According to the Pasco County Government Facebook page, "Those who have pets are encouraged to bring them, along with pet food, cage, water, and vaccination records."

The Salvation Army has teams in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Pasco County ready to serve those impacted by the flooding.  

Jeanne Coulter, the Social Services Director for the Pasco County Salvation Army, said teams will be ready to serve until Friday, when county partners will meet to decide on options for a long-term recovery. 

"I've lived here for 35 years and I've never seen flooding like this," Coulter said. "This is my hometown and we care about our neighbors."

The Salvation Army will be sending canteens, kitchen on wheels, to provide food for survivors and first responders and will also be serving hot meals at its Center of Hope facility in Port Richey.

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