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2015 in Review: Hundreds of homes damaged by torrential summertime rains, flooding

Doug Caple tows his wife, Erica; daughter, Anabel; and dog, Buck, home in Elfers following days of heavy rain and flooding in early August.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Doug Caple tows his wife, Erica; daughter, Anabel; and dog, Buck, home in Elfers following days of heavy rain and flooding in early August.

Once the rain started in late July, it seemed as if it would never end.

For three weeks, water — up to 40 inches in the Elfers area — descended upon west Pasco, causing rivers to rise and flood basins to overflow. Water was waist deep in some places, and the preferred mode of transportation went from car to canoe.

More than 300 Pasco homes were damaged or destroyed, many along the Anclote River, in the Bass Lake community and in Thousand Oaks in Trinity. Many more residents whose homes sustained water damage were not able to flush their toilets for weeks as standing water submerged their septic tanks.

The Anclote River at Elfers was well above the 24-foot mark for major flood stage, and water poured into homes that were not elevated on stilts and blocked traffic at State Road 54 and Rowan Road.

The rising water also created a public health nightmare as officials found potentially harmful levels of excrement in the standing water.

County crews and inmates helped residents pack thousands of sandbags at pickup stations, and water caused millions of dollars in road and infrastructure damage. Several dozen people also sought refuge in county emergency shelters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied a request by Gov. Rick Scott to declare the area a disaster zone, which would have allowed federal dollars and relief to flow into Pasco. Some residents, however, were able to obtain relief from state funds.

As the year ended, the county was struggling to figure out how to pay for long-term road and drainage improvements, expected to cost more than $100 million.

Josh Solomon, Times staff

2015 in Review: Hundreds of homes damaged by torrential summertime rains, flooding 12/30/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 6:17pm]
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