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Published Jun. 27, 2012

Sinkholes, flooded roads and downed trees kept public works officials in Hernando County scrambling to keep up Tuesday as Tropical Storm Debby continued to slowly churn in the Gulf Of Mexico.

As work to repair sinkhole damage to Mariner Boulevard and Claymore Street in Spring Hill continued, new collapses and the threat of others kept officials on alert.

A portion of Quality Drive near Spring Hill Regional Hospital and Suncoast Elementary School had to be closed after the roadway caved in. Sinkholes also contributed Monday to the closing of part of a concrete taxiway that parallels the main runway at the Hernando County Airport.

Appearing before the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday, county engineer Brian Malmberg said his office had received more than 216 work requests to repair damage to county infrastructure.

While sinkholes added to the calamity, the 15 inches of rain that fell during the weekend in parts of Hernando County overwhelmed retention ponds and contributed to most of the county's transportation headaches. Standing water forced the closing of nine county and state roadways.

The northbound and southbound lanes of the Suncoast Parkway remained closed Tuesday between State Road 50 and State Road 98 due to standing water in an area near the toll plaza at the north end of the expressway.

Florida Turnpike Enterprise spokeswoman Christa Deason said crews were trying to pump water to alternative drainage areas in the hope of having the southbound lanes cleared by today.

"You have a situation where the water backed up because it had no place else to go," Deason said. "Once the water is pumped off, the road should be ready to open to traffic."

Malmberg said that while most of the county's paved roads remain relatively unaffected by flooding, the same isn't true for county's 375 miles of limerock roads, several of which experienced washouts. For now, county road crews are using crushed stone and gravel to fill in deep ruts because its stockpile of limestone is too wet to use.

Heavy rainfall is also blamed for extensive damage to a $1.3 million earth berm at the county's Peck Sink restoration project south of Brooksville. Early damage estimates are between $100,000 and $200,000.

While county officials had their troubles, the city of Brooksville saw no major damage, said Brooksville public works director Richard Radacky.

City crews were busy Monday cutting trees that had fallen across Hazel and Duke streets, and the only other major concern was whether the city's sewage treatment plant could handle more than a million gallons of extra water that flowed in through aging pipes.

Radacky said the city's installation of automatic generators at several sewage pump stations kept the system on line despite a power outage. "I think we came out real good," Radacky said Tuesday. "We had some minor flooding, but I haven't heard of any major damage."

Staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or

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The following road closures remained in effect Tuesday evening for Hernando County because of flooding or sinkholes:

- Spring Hill Drive from the Hernando County Jail to the Florida Department of Transportation office

- Mariner Boulevard from Little Street to Claymore Street

- Quality Drive from Spring Hill Regional Hospital to Suncoast Elementary School

- Claymore Street at Keeport Drive

- Citrus Way at U.S. 98

- Epply Drive at Trudy Land

- Hillandale Avenue from Marysville Street to Abbeville Street

- Old Crystal River Road at Ajax Street

- Richloam Clay Sink Road at Cortez Boulevard

- Jasmine Road from Wesleyan Village to Old Jasmine Road

- Nancy Drive, adjacent to the Disabled American Veterans hall

- Turkey Trot Lane

- Croom Road from Broad Street east to McIntyre Road

- Clinton Boulevard from Cortez Boulevard to Providence Boulevard.

- Rosewood Drive at Lynbrook Lane

- The Suncoast Parkway from Cortez Boulebard to U.S. 98

- Quarterhorse Lane.

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Residents who are in need of sandbags may obtain them at the following locations:

- Spring Hill Fire Rescue Station 1, 1461 Parker Ave., Spring Hill.

- Brooksville Fire Station, 85 Veterans Ave., Brooksville.

- Hernando Beach Fire Station, 3451 Shoal Line Blvd.

- Spring Hill Fire Rescue Station 3, Deltona and Forest Oaks Boulevards.

- Ridge Manor Community Center, 34240 Cortez Blvd., Ridge Manor.

For information, call the Hernando County Emergency Management at (352) 754-4083.

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Republic Services, which provides garbage and recycling service to all of Hernando County except Brooksville, said it is temporarily suspending the collection of recyclables due to high water at the county recycling facility, northwest of Brooksville. Regular trash pickup service will continue as scheduled, depending on road conditions. For information, call 1-800-282-9820 or (727) 868-2566.