Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Hurricane Guide

Year in review: Hernando’s worst Irma memories lie along the Withlacoochee

Hernando County residents saw a busy 2017 with Hurricane Irma leading the local headlines. The hurricane stomped through the center of the county in September, leaving a wake of homes without power, trees in the roadways and the worst flooding in recent memory along with Withlacoochee River. Local political upheaval, concerns about taxes, controversy surrounding the annual Blueberry Festival and a decline in the Weeki Wachee River rounded out the top news stories of the year.

BROOKSVILLE — A weather map with the swirl of Hurricane Irma threatening to slide straight up the Florida peninsula became the mental image frozen in the minds of residents in 2017.

Hernando County residents took the threat seriously with coastal areas heeding evacuation orders and more than 6,000 people — four times the number seen in Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 — jammed into local hurricane evacuation shelters.

When the sun rose on September 11, the worst case scenario of a Category 3 hurricane in Hernando County had not materialized. But with a direct hit from a Category 1 storm, the local landscape was still littered with trees blocking roads, twisted road signs, standing water and thousands of residents without power. Some would not see lights, warm food or hot showers for days and beyond.

Government workers, utility crews aided by brethren from across the country, tree service workers, volunteers and neighbors pulled together to get the community back to normalcy. But the recovery took weeks longer for those living along with Withlacoochee River who saw the fifth-worst floods ever recorded on the waterway.

Preliminary estimates of damages topped $763,000 countywide, and more than 15,000 residents registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking help.

As the year wound to an end, the county’s emergency management staff and government agencies met to share their experiences. Their goals is to improve their emergency response plan for the future.

Barbara Behrendt, Times Staff Writer

RELATED: Weeks after Irma, flooding causes issues in eastern Hernando

Hernando County residents saw a busy 2017 with Hurricane Irma leading the local headlines. The hurricane stomped through the center of the county in September, leaving a wake of homes without power, trees in the roadways and the worst flooding in recent memory along with Withlacoochee River. Local political upheaval, concerns about taxes, controversy surrounding the annual Blueberry Festival and a decline in the Weeki Wachee River rounded out the top news stories of the year.

BROOKSVILLE — A weather map with the swirl of Hurricane Irma threatening to slide straight up the Florida peninsula became the mental image frozen in the minds of residents in 2017.

Hernando County residents took the threat seriously with coastal areas heeding evacuation orders and more than 6,000 people — four times the number seen in Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 — jammed into local hurricane evacuation shelters.

When the sun rose on September 11, the worst case scenario of a Category 3 hurricane in Hernando County had not materialized. But with a direct hit from a Category 1 storm, the local landscape was still littered with trees blocking roads, twisted road signs, standing water and thousands of residents without power. Some would not see lights, warm food or hot showers for days and beyond.

Government workers, utility crews aided by brethren from across the country, tree service workers, volunteers and neighbors pulled together to get the community back to normalcy. But the recovery took weeks longer for those living along with Withlacoochee River who saw the fifth-worst floods ever recorded on the waterway.

Preliminary estimates of damages topped $763,000 countywide, and more than 15,000 residents registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking help.

As the year wound to an end, the county’s emergency management staff and government agencies met to share their experiences. Their goals is to improve their emergency response plan for the future.

Barbara Behrendt, Times Staff Writer

RELATED: Weeks after Irma, flooding causes issues in eastern Hernando

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