Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

Summertime deluges, flooding brought back memories of Debby

In June, just days after the start of the 2013 hurricane season, Hernando County had a brush with the first named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Andrea.

The storm, which made landfall north of Hernando County, brought gusty winds and steady downpours. Though it dampened the area, shutting down coastal parks and benching the Weeki Wachee mermaids, there was no widespread damage

As it turned out, it was a precursor to a couple of bouts of heavy summertime rains — reminders of Tropical Storm Debby in 2012, which flooded neighborhoods, opened sinkholes and closed roadways.

Late one August afternoon, a thunderstorm hovered over central Hernando and Pasco counties for a couple of hours, dumping several inches of rain. The rain came so fast that retention ponds overflowed. Low areas filled with water. Waves of water poured into stores surrounding the flooded intersection of Cortez Boulevard and Broad Street in Brooksville.

Some of the worst flooding damage happened in historically low areas on the city's south side, including the Greenbriar Villa Apartments off Cortez Boulevard, the Southway Villa Mobile Home Park off Barnett Road and at the Campers Holiday Travel Park south of town, off Culbreath Road.

A month later, some of the same residents were threatened again as 5 inches of rain were recorded during a 24-hour period.

With the data collected during those storms and updated flood map information, local officials have been working with state and federal agencies to create plans to fix recurring problems.

The work may include raising roadways and building new storm water retention ponds.

Although some of the work may be years away, the Florida Turnpike Authority is in the process of improving a drainage pond and raising the lanes at the northern terminus of the Suncoast Parkway. That stretch of road was under more than 5 feet of water and was closed for days after Debby.

Barbara Behrendt, Times staff writer

 
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