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Brooksville businesses survey damage, begin cleanup after Debby

Steve Ferriero, owner of ESP Enterprises and the building in which it and Pine Brook Pharmacy are located on Cortez Boulevard west of Brooksville, removes a damaged carpet Tuesday.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Steve Ferriero, owner of ESP Enterprises and the building in which it and Pine Brook Pharmacy are located on Cortez Boulevard west of Brooksville, removes a damaged carpet Tuesday.

BROOKSVILLE — Larry Craig was just trying to get some cash from the ATM at the Brooksville branch of the Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union on Monday morning.

But it was no easy task.

The road to the credit union, off the State Road 50 truck route, was swamped with several inches of water. The building itself was closed, and the nearest branch 10 miles away in Spring Hill.

That didn't stop Craig.

The 28-year-old Brooksville resident parked at a nearby car dealership and walked the short distance to withdraw his money.

"Ain't this a pain in the a--?" Craig asked.

"I can't believe what I'm looking at. I've never seen it this bad in my life."

Tuesday afternoon, Susan Johnson, Suncoast Schools vice president of branch operations, said the water had not yet sufficiently receded to reopen. She was hopeful of resuming operations by today.

The credit union was not the only Hernando County business to feel the effects of Tropical Storm Debby.

Monday morning, the door at Pine Brook Pharmacy, on Cortez Boulevard west of Brooksville, was locked behind shutters and lined with sand bags. A printed sign informed customers — if they could read it across the flooded parking lot — that the business was closed and that prescriptions had been transferred to another location.

"I'm not worried about the money part," pharmacist and owner Gautam Thakkar, 40, said. "This morning my biggest concern is people's medications."

Thakkar said that all of the computers had been taken out of the business and the information transferred to Pine Brook's second location at 5340 Spring Hill Drive.

About 8:50 a.m. Tuesday, Thakkar began draining the pharmacy's parking lot with hopes of speeding up the cleanup process. Carpet and drywall within the pharmacy will have to be replaced before it can reopen, hopefully in about 10 days, Thakkar said.

In the lot next to the pharmacy, the Brooksville Elks Lodge had better luck on higher ground. Flooding of the parking lot caused the lodge to close Monday. However, there was no damage to the building.

The lodge opened at its regular time at noon Tuesday.

Next to the credit union in Brooksville, Stacy Strickland, director of the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service, tried to drive back his office on the access road off Cortez Boulevard, but was met with 3 1/2 feet of water.

The road, which provides access to the cooperative extension service, the Hernando County Development Department and the credit union, was flooded and closed.

While employees at both county offices were able to make it inside the building, patrons had a harder time.

Strickland said he had to reroute visitors through the lot of Badcock Furniture.

While visiting farms in Hernando County this week, Strickland said he found many fields underwater.

At JG Ranch, owner George Casey said his strawberries and blueberries are still above water, but the road to reach the fields and cattle is flooded.

"We've been commuting in and out on canoes," Casey said. "Our equipment is on dry land. We took care of that ahead of time."

Strickland said he expects that agricultural businesses will soon see additional problems after the flood waters drain.

"What's underwater is underwater. A perennial crop like blueberries can develop root diseases," Strickland said. "Even if they don't die they can have long-lasting effects."

Staff writer Danny Valentine contributed to this report. Laura Herrera can be reached at lherrera@tampabay.com or (352) 754-6114.

Brooksville businesses survey damage, begin cleanup after Debby 06/26/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 7:54pm]
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