FEMA representatives to visit Pasco on Thursday to assess flood damage

Recent flooding has caused an estimated $1 million in damage in Pasco County. [BRENDAN FITTERER  |  Times]
Recent flooding has caused an estimated $1 million in damage in Pasco County. [BRENDAN FITTERER | Times]
Published Aug. 12, 2015

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Federal Emergency Management Agency will visit Pasco County on Thursday to assess an estimated $1 million in flood damage and determine whether to declare a state of disaster.

During a news conference Tuesday, Pasco officials said they are seeking federal assistance to help cover the costs of flood damage to hundreds of roads, homes and businesses countywide. A federal declaration would provide access to federal funds and programs, including small-business and low-interest loans and other money to assist with rehousing.

The flooding affected 502 buildings and destroyed 50 more in Pasco. About 30 homes still were without power Tuesday, director of emergency management Annette Doying said. Gov. Rick Scott last week declared a state of emergency in Pasco and several other counties, including Hillsborough and Pinellas.

Pasco officials also used resources to relocate residents of destroyed homes and have prepared a letter asking state officials for $5 million through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program.

"We're aggressively organizing the right resources to get those people in need of rehousing assistance rehoused," Doying said.

She estimated the county has spent more than $1 million responding to the flooding.

Hillsborough has spent $400,000 on flood repairs, county Administrator Mike Merrill said Tuesday. The torrential downpour caused $565,000 more in damage to 97 houses, which probably will be reimbursed by FEMA, Merrill said.

Although the storm battered the entire county, northwest Hillsborough was hit the hardest, pounded by 20 inches of rain over three weeks, said John Lyons of the Public Works Department.

At this point, the county's objective is to pinpoint saturated areas and fix them to prevent further street flooding when the next storm hits. There are 20 to 30 pumps deployed across the county reallocating water from lake to lake, Merrill said, with response teams working around the clock.

In New Port Richey, residents who need elderly nutrition, behavioral health counseling and other human services can visit the Flood Recovery Center on the second floor at 7536 State St. from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. The Florida Department of Health is offering free tetanus vaccines to residents at 10841 Little Road, Doying said.

Unfortunately, forecasts predict 3 inches of rainfall starting tonight and lasting through Friday morning, Doying said — something the county does not need.

"Any more rainfall is a concern to us," she said. "We're in a loop here in Pasco County."

Contact Samantha Schmidt at (813) 435-7308 or Follow @schmidtsam7. Contact Zack Peterson at (813) 226-3368 or Follow @zackpeterson918.