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With Isaac's rainfall, Hernando officials remain concerned about flooding

BROOKSVILLE — Tropical Storm Debby flooded Steve Ferriero's business on Cortez Boulevard with 13 inches of rain in June, doing roughly $50,000 in damage and forcing him to close for two weeks.

Ferriero wasn't taking any chances with Isaac.

So he spent the weekend building a 2-foot-high wood and plastic wall around the building that houses his ESP Enterprises, as well as Pine Brook Pharmacy. He caulked the seams and reinforced the corners with sandbags. He installed pumps.

"I couldn't sit back and watch it come in like the last time," Ferriero said, noting the project cost about $2,500.

But as of Monday afternoon, the worst storm predictions hadn't come to fruition, and it appeared Hernando would escape serious weather and widespread flooding.

By midday, Isaac had dumped only 1.38 inches of rain at the Hernando County Airport, south of Brooksville.

Hernando Emergency Management officials estimated the area would get between 2 and 4 inches of rain with gusty winds over the next day or two. Rainfall and wind speeds could be more intense in any super cells of rain that move through.

The county wasn't under any advisories as Isaac chugged northwest in the Gulf of Mexico.

Only a small number of sporadic power outages were reported in Hernando on Monday.

Students had the day off, with the closure of Hernando County schools and Pasco-Hernando Community College, though both were scheduled to reopen Tuesday.

County and city of Brooksville governments were open for business as usual.

But anyone who came looking for sandbags was out of luck.

After distributing about 18,000 sandbags and 20 truckloads of sand in recent days, officials ran out over the weekend, and those who still need them will have to get them from local hardware stores, said sheriff's spokesman Lt. Michael L. Burzumato.

Officials continued to monitor the storm and any possible flooding. The Sheriff's Office doubled its presence on the roads, scanning flood-prone areas, including Quarterhorse Lane, Wiscon Road and Imperial Estates, all south of Brooksville.

Emergency management officials did not anticipate any coastal surge above 3 feet during high tides.

A handful of people were out and about Monday, despite the potential for harsh weather. Along the coastline, residents and visitors said they weren't worried.

"We dodged a bullet," said Marie Schinder, 70, who lives on Pine Island. "I'm not worried.

Alfred A. McKethan Park on Pine Island remained open Monday. Although few people stopped by, the beach remained untouched by the storm. High tide during the morning didn't even cover the sand.

At Bayport Park, 46-year-old Joe King of Brooksville came out to see the sights and take pictures of the marine life on his cell phone.

"I'm not too concerned," King said. "I like nasty weather. Must be the Irish in me."

The Withlacoochee River remained in its banks. The midday level was 9.5 feet at Trilby, where flood stage is 12 feet, and 7.47 feet at Croom, where flood stage is 9 feet.

Officials continued to monitor the Withlacoochee, noting that, if there is flooding, it could come days later as water collected in the Green Swamp, east of Hernando County, drains into the river.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434. Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432.

With Isaac's rainfall, Hernando officials remain concerned about flooding 08/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 5:48pm]

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