Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Debby came out of nowhere to deluge Pasco

The beep on my cellphone woke me up at 5:50 Sunday morning.

"Golf tournament canceled.''

That the organizers hadn't made the call the night before gives you some insight into the eternal optimism of weekend golfers who always swear the really heavy stuff won't come down for several hours. All the forecasters had promised Sunday would be a washout.

At any rate, I was now wide awake. I opened the front door to let Alfie out. He looked up at me and retreated to the couch. I made a mad dash to the newspaper, which was soaked.

No big deal. Our carrier almost always gets it right, so rather than call for a new paper I just drove down to Walgreens. Only a few days earlier we had left Boulder, Colo. enveloped in smoke from nearby wildfires. Folks there would kill for our rain, I thought as I prepared some coffee.

This would be a good day to do nothing.

By midafternoon, the rain showed no sign of easing. Water collected in the side yard, then found its way under the door to the garage. In 30 years, we've had this happen only a few times. The solution: put down some towels and newspapers. But this time, the water rushed in and threatened some wood furniture.

We swept and put more towels down, barely slowing the flow. A neighbor mentioned the Pasco Sheriff's Office was distributing sandbags. Without thinking it through, I hopped in my Honda Accord and took off for what is usually a 10-minute trip.

Big mistake.

The first sign of trouble came at the corner of State Road 52 and Little Road. Three drivers abandoned compact cars that had died when they hit standing water. This seemed bad enough, and then I headed south on Little Road and saw the same scene repeated at three other intersections.

What was I thinking? On the radio, an announcer seemed to scream at people like me: STAY OFF THE ROADS! All over the Tampa Bay region, emergency crews were responding to stranded motorists.

I approached Ridge Road. It would be just another half-mile. But at the intersection, a sheriff's cruiser parked in the middle of the six-lane highway, now under water.

Forget the sandbags. I just wanted to get back home. I cut through the Home Depot parking lot and headed west on four-lane Ridge. I figured if I could get to U.S. 19, I'd be okay. Surely a highway that big wouldn't be flooded.

I still don't understand how my little Honda survived either Ridge or 19. A foot of rain in less than 10 hours had made them both more suitable to boats.

Back home we bailed and swept water from the garage, but mainly we worried as the little creek out back grew into a lake. During Hurricane Elena in 1985, Bear Creek came up under our kids' swing set and a small alligator paid us a visit. But the water never really threatened our house.

Today I'm not so sure, even after a relatively dry Monday and Tuesday. The creek keeps inching up. It's a common story throughout West Pasco, especially near the Anclote and Pithlachascotee rivers, where helpless homeowners are evacuating.

Some of them told our reporters they stayed put during Elena and the more notorious No Name Storm of March 1993. They never thought a relatively small weather system many miles to the north would have such a disastrous effect.

This storm named Debby has earned a dubious place in our history, even as hurricane season is just getting started.

Debby came out of nowhere to deluge Pasco 06/26/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. From the food editor: 'MasterChef' winner Shaun O'Neale talks cooking at Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival

    Cooking

    There are certain reliable signs that fall is on the way. Nothing in the weather department, of course, but other markers that usher in the celebratory final months of the year. One of those things is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, which happens annually in Orlando, seemingly longer and more jam-packed …

    Chicken Wings with Sweet Potato Puree. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  2. Mike Evans stands behind Michael Bennett

    Blogs

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans was signing autographs for children after Bucs practice on Saturday. As he signed, he talked about Seattle defensive and former Buc Michael Bennett, who last Friday sat during the national anthem and who says he will continue to do so to fight racial injustice.

    Mike Evans, left, hauls in a pass in front of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.
  3. Man, I miss Planet Simeon

    Blogs

    Simeon Rice, right, works with Bucs defensive end Ryan Russell.
  4. Florida education news: HB 7069, solar eclipse, courtesy bus rides and more

    Blogs

    DISCORD: Employees of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association accuse the union of "less than fair and equitable" working conditions.