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Port Richey residents wake up in flooded homes

Alice Cansler, 44, helps her ex-husband, Jimmy Cansler, clean his Port Richey home after flooding on Wednesday. The house on Hyssop Street had knee-deep water in some areas.

ERIN SULLIVAN | Times

Alice Cansler, 44, helps her ex-husband, Jimmy Cansler, clean his Port Richey home after flooding on Wednesday. The house on Hyssop Street had knee-deep water in some areas.

PORT RICHEY — Someone pounded at the door. Teresa Cansler was groggy. It was 7 a.m. Wednesday at her house on the dead end of Hyssop Street. She slipped her feet out of the covers and stepped on the carpet. It was wet.

"Honey? I think the water bed is leaking," she said to her husband, Jimmy, who didn't want to wake up.

"It's fine," he mumbled.

The water was up to Teresa's ankles. The power was still on. Teresa's bare feet were less than a foot away from power cords.

"No," Teresa said. "The house is flooded."

She went to the door. Emergency workers urged her to get out of the house. Jimmy's 16-year-old son, Scott, lives in their converted garage. The water was up to his knees. Teresa's daughter and her two toddlers also live there, as well as three dogs, one cat and one snake. Everyone grabbed what they could and were evacuated from the area, located south of Ranch Road. The whole street was underwater. Jimmy's ex-wife, Alice Cansler, came to pick them up.

The Canslers were one of nearly a dozen families in west Pasco who needed to leave their homes because of flooding Wednesday. Mike Cantin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said 3 inches of rain fell over the area Tuesday, which set the stage for flooding Wednesday.

"It moistened everything up," Cantin said, "and pushed it over the edge in some areas."

Storms rolled in off the Gulf of Mexico like a train, he said, with each boxcar stopping over the Port Richey and Hudson areas, dumping water, with little time between storms. Cantin said the rain fell so fast, there wasn't time for the ground to recover and soak it in.

By 9 a.m. Wednesday, another 3 inches fell.

By noon, yet another 3.

Although the whole Tampa Bay area had rough weather Wednesday, Cantin said west Pasco was one of two bull's-eyes on the weather map. The other was the Brandon area.

The National Weather Service doesn't have a station in Pasco, so all of the rainfall numbers are from weather watchers calling in reports from their rain gauges.

Cantin said the rain fell at about 1 1/2 to 2 inches per hour. All told, he said, western Pasco had about 6 to 7 inches of rain Wednesday.

• • •

That night, the Canslers crammed into one hotel room. On Thursday morning, they came home to survey the damage. The water had receded. Another family who lives on their street also returned to find the water gone – and their television and jewelry stolen.

"I feel violated," said Leanne Archambault, 37, who lives there with her two daughters. She said she's moving. "I don't feel safe here."

The Canslers said their home wasn't broken into. On Thursday morning, their landlord and workers took out the carpeting and linoleum, which was warping. It had been only a day, but the house already smelled of mold. Most of their furniture will be thrown out, as well as anything that was on the floor.

Teresa, 44, couldn't find her grandson's baby book. Her stepson, who has cerebral palsy, lost all of his guitars and the computers that held the songs he had written. He and his dog, Stitch, a 110-pound bull mastiff, are staying with his mother.

The rest of the family plan to stay in their hotel room until the house is fixed. The landlord said it should be done in a week. Jimmy, 53, and his wife feel lucky they weren't electrocuted and their family is safe.

"All we can do is throw the stuff away that's ruined and start over," he said. "I don't let things like this get me down. There are people out there a lot worse off than I am."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com.

Port Richey residents wake up in flooded homes 07/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 2, 2009 8:27pm]
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