Sunday, June 24, 2018
News Roundup

Work, threats continue as Hernando recovers from Irma

BROOKSVILLE

Hurricane Irma's fierce winds are becoming a memory, but the water the storm left behind has become a real threat on Hernando's east side.

The Withlacoochee River has crested just shy of 18 feet at Trilby — about 6 feet above flood stage — and will remain high for several more days. Floodwaters have inundated streets, yards and homes with muddy water.

Air boats, jon boats and other craft manned by uniformed officers and volunteers have been scouring the flooded areas to evacuate those willing to leave their homes.

This week, during the Hernando County Commission meeting, heaps of praise were lavished on the dozens of workers from emergency management, the county, fire rescue, law enforcement and volunteers from all walks of life for their efforts to get Hernando County through the hurricane.

But while officials were able to catalog the dozens of tasks necessary to bring the community through the hit from a Category 1 hurricane, they were also cautious to note that the threat is not over. They predicted that floodwaters on the Withlacoochee will not recede for days.

The flood also brought along a fish kill on the river because oxygen levels are naturally reduced as the river floods.

The county's emergency management director, Cecilia Patella, told commissioners "we are still very much in response mode'' due to the river flooding.

The county was placed under a state of emergency while the storm was approaching, and mandatory evacuations west of U.S. 19 were ordered. The declaration was extended twice as the river waters began to rise, and voluntary evacuation orders were issued.

Officials have detailed what will come in the days ahead as they continue to scour the county with assessment teams that are adding up the damages.

Storm debris trucks will make two passes through the county's roads in the coming days to collect branches, tree trunks and construction materials. Repairs and cleanups continue at county parks and offices. And the county's mosquito control forces are working to keep the biting insects at bay as they breed in standing water.

The relief and recovery work will grow in the coming days. Representatives from the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Centers told commissioners about resources available to help businesses and residents get back on their feet. County Administrator Len Sossamon said that county officials are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to find a site for a Disaster Recovery Action Center somewhere in Hernando.

County officials praised a variety of workers. Among them was Craig Becker, the county's head of facilities maintenance, who spent the storm doing everything from shoring up the windows at the Emergency Operations Center with plywood to helping the jail with its generator when the power went out.

They told stories about the Oklahoma electrical line crew that was housed in the annex of the jail and the Duke Energy mini-city that popped up at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, with everything from sleeping quarters to food servers — essentially a small city.

Commissioners also vowed to help neighborhoods that continue to have flooding problems. Several families came forward to seek assistance with ongoing flooding on their properties near Peck Sink, south of Brooksville. Officials acknowledged continuing issues with other areas that flood, including portions of Powell Road near U.S. 41 that had to be closed this past weekend.

While there were constant comparisons with previous storms and the problems they brought, Irma stood out in several ways. While the county sheltered nearly 2,000 people during hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004, Irma brought the need to shelter more than 5,000.

And while Hurricane Hermine last year created more than 10,000 cubic yards of debris to haul away, mostly from the coast, Sossamon noted that the estimate for Irma is five times that amount.

Hernando County Fire Chief Scott Hechler noted that his staff prepares for handling emergencies every day, so they were ready for Irma.

"Everybody stepped up to the plate,'' said Kevin Carroll, deputy fire chief. "The people of Hernando County should be proud to know . . . that everybody made sure that this county was well prepared.''

As she and others rolled up their sleeves and sent people out to manage the crisis, Romano said, she knew she was asking a lot. But the response was more than she could have imagined.

"Our community has a great heart and soul,'' she said, "and that was shown.''

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

 
Comments
Father dead, suspect in custody after hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

Father dead, suspect in custody after hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

A Tampa man is dead and his 3-year-old son is in serious condition after being struck by a hit-and-run driver as they went on a family bike ride Sunday afternoon.A male suspect is in custody and being interviewed by police but his name has not yet be...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

TAMPA — Every year during draft season, players from the Tampa Bay area are selected in the NFL, MLB and even NBA drafts.But NHL?Sure enough, in the third round of Saturday's NHL draft, the Jets selected Nathan Smith, a forward who was born in ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

TAMPA ó Stripped to the girders, the old Bromley office building looked about as substantial as fish bones on a dinner plate.But the 5-story structure proved Sunday it still had a surprising amount of fight left in it.A demolition team had planned to...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays season turning into good one

Rays season turning into good one

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays are not the best team in baseball. They are not going to win the World Series this year. Heck, they probably won't even make the playoffs.But I tell you what. This team is a heck of a lot of fun to watch.And ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays first baseman Jake Bauers sat at his locker after Sunday afternoon's 7-6, 12-inning win over the Yankees and thumbed through his text messages. There was no way he could get through them all. That's what happens when ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: Yarbrough comes through, Venters to DL, support for Ramos

Rays journal: Yarbrough comes through, Venters to DL, support for Ramos

ST. PETERSBURG — Ryan Yarbrough was only supposed to throw on Sunday if it was an emergency. In the 12th inning with the score tied 6-6 and a runner on first, there was an emergency.Jonny Venters tweaked his right hamstring trying to cover firs...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

ST. PETERSBURGSuspect dead, 2 injured in home invasion, shootingThree people forced their way into a St. Petersburg house before dawn Sunday before gunfire broke out, killing a suspect and injuring two residents, police said.About 5:30 a.m., the peop...
Updated: 4 hours ago
A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

The coast of White Rock, British Columbia, in western Canada looks to be an ideal place for a run, with its sweeping views of the Semiahmoo Bay to the west and scores of waterfront homes and seafood restaurants to the east. Thatís what 19-year-old Ce...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A 19-year-old driver died in a three-car crash on Moon Lake Road on Saturday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.Jillian Faith Hitt, 19 and of New Port Richey, was driving north on the road in a 2008 Hyundai Accent, weari...
Updated: 9 hours ago
President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

STERLING, Ill. - As a longtime editor of small-town newspapers, Jeff Rogers has seen his industry face the collapse of print advertising, the rise of the internet and more. Today, his 18 employees work in a newsroom here that puts out two daily newsp...
Updated: 9 hours ago