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Pasco County Officials Canvass Flood-Prone Neighborhoods For Damage

Cindy Szappan is normally the recreation supervisor for Pasco County Parks and Recreation, but Tuesday she was canvassing a New Port Richey neighborhood to log possible damage from Tropical Storm Colin and to offer help to residents.

Szappan, with Kathy Spinks and Stephen Barnoski, a mechanical inspector for the county, were on one of 30 teams throughout West Pasco County going door-to-door in neighborhoods with prior flooding issues.

When she walked up a semi-flooded pathway to a house at 8602 Bass Lake Drive and rang the doorbell, a dog barked inside and a woman answered the door.

“Hi, there!” Szappan said. “We’re with Pasco County. We’re going to neighborhoods affected to see if there’s any damage from Colin or if anyone needs assistance. Did you need anything?”

Kathy Lee tells Szappan they were lucky this time: no damage, just some puddles along the house and driveway. Last year though, the water almost made it past their elevated doorstep into the home.

Her roommate, James Champlin, wants the county to clean out a drain on their street but said the county says it belongs to the state and the state says it belongs to the county. Szappan notes that into a survey application on her phone.

The county will use the feedback to address issues before future storms, but it’s not a new practice, Barnoski said.

“I did it last year with them and understand they’ve done it a number of times, although not to this extent with people going up to the doors,” Szappan said. “I think the people that this affects really appreciate it.”

If a resident isn’t home, the county leaves a neon yellow hangtag with the customer service line to report storm issues. It’s (727) 847-2411.

So far, the Pasco County Emergency Operations Center has received only two reports of damage: a tree on a house at 38532 Fir Avenue in Zephyrhills and a tree on a car at 12935 Pebble Beach Circle in Hudson.

There were 10 other reports of minor debris, trees in a road and trees fallen on private property with no structural damage.

Pasco County Customer Service took 983 phone calls Monday.

“(Residents) need to know we are here to help,” Szappan said. “I know there are concerns that some people didn’t get help last time, they feel, but the county is doing what they can to help those residents.”

There were very few reports of flooding and wind damage from Colin this week, but the county wants to stay on top of potential issues. Residents can get updates from the county through the free MyPasco mobile app.

“We’re going to be in your neighborhoods moving around in Pasco county damages to see what damages you have out here,” said Kevin Guthrie, emergency services director for Pasco. “We’re very concerned about it and want to make sure we’re proactive as a government moving forward in the future.”

Keith Newton, who also lives on Bass Lake Drive in New Port Richey, said he didn’t experience flooding this time, but did last year when it rained for 22 days straight in July. He's hopeful these surveys will help prevent flooding in the future.

“(The county is) concerned, we’re concerned,” Newton said. “Do they have all the answers? Probably not. But they’re being prepared now more than they used to be.”

The county pre-placed pumps around flood-prone areas before the storm hit to help remove water before it damaged streets and homes.

Pasco deactivated the Pasco County Emergency Operations Center at noon Tuesday and is now operating at a level three, the lowest of three activation levels.  The emergency management staff will continue to monitor the  weather.

Pasco officials said heavy rains are still possible with potential river flooding through Wednesday. The Cotee and Anclote rivers are expected to crest in the next day or two.

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