At the First Presbyterian Church of New Port Richey, 5-year-old George Blowers IV snaps together pieces of a toy pirate ship with the help of a Red Cross volunteer.
A Red Cross volunteer plays with George Blowers IV in the toy room at the First Presbyterian Church of Port Richey after his parent's kitchen and his bedroom flooded in their New Port Richey home.Credit Daylina Miller/WUSFEdit | Remove
George and his three siblings, who range from 7 months old to seven years old, are staying at the makeshift evacuation shelter after their Port Richey home flooded Sunday. The water swept through the kitchen and creeped into the children's bedroom.
It found its way through cracks in the roof and ran down the walls where black mold formed. Amanda Bailey knew she had to get her children out of there.
"The rain got in so bad, it got the walls wet and it formed black mold," Bailey said. "My youngest being seven months old and my oldest being seven, I didn’t want it to get into their lungs so we had to get out of there."
The same day they vacated to the shelter, the Pasco County's Office of Emergency Management issues an evacuation order for several neighborhoods in the southwest part of the county where flooding was becoming a major issue.
Overall, 16 houses and six businesses dealt with one to 16 inches of water, officials said. The damage is still being assessed but more houses are expected to be added to the ranks of those affected by flooding.
At its peak, the Anclote River rose to more than 23 inches, barely missing "Major Flood Stage" at 24 inches. Heavy rainfall last week and through this weekend contributed to the river's rise and areas affected or in danger of becoming affected were included in the evacuation order.
The evacuation area include:
- Main roadways include: Celtic Drive and Elfers Parkway
- North boundary is State Road 54
- Ella Lane to the south
- East boundary is Dellefield Street and Riverbank Drive
- West boundary is Glenside Drive
The American Red Cross has helped seven people so far, including Bailey's family. They provide hot meals, blankets and a sleeping cot, and plan to stay open until they're no longer needed.
Officials said the weather forecast calls for continued rainfall for the next several days and the Anclote River to slowly decline in flood level.
The flooded areas, Trinity Oaks and Elfers, are expected to remain flooded for the next few days.
Annette Doying, the director of emergency management services for Pasco, said public works employees have been pumping water and moving it into outflow areas, but the continued rainfall makes it difficult to keep the water in check.
“In truth, they’re out of places to push the water," Doying said. "They have every pump that could be deployed, they brought in additional rental pumps, they’ve brought in additional barricades. They’re doing the best they can, they just have nowhere left to put the water.”
The area's Duckslough watershed for storm water was modified after Tropical Storm Debbie in 2012 caused a lot of flooding in the area. Officials said it's designed to take care of stormwater but not designed for an onslaught of rainfall for days or weeks at time.
Pasco County Emergency Management will begin a damage assessment over the next week to determine financial impact to homes, businesses and infrastructure.
In the meantime, Bailey and her family, who won't be able to go back to their home anytime soon, are trying to make the best of their situation until they can figure out their next step.
"We're just trying to stay positive," Bailey said.