Pasco residents and rescuers endure Anclote River flooding days after storm passes

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers used a highwater vehicle to deliver water to residents in the Elfers area on Monday.

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) –  Labor Day was no picnic for residents of Anclote River Estates.

The river, still swollen above flood stage by deluges day after day since last Wednesday, continued to make life miserable long after the rain stopped. “I think little by little things are getting back to normal, but there are still a lot of people suffering out here,” Pasco County worker Ben Diel said.

Diel normally works in human resources but was one of the 350 Pasco County workers and volunteers who teamed up to assess damage and deliver relief to nearly 2500 residents in evacuation zones. Pasco opened an emergency shelter designed to house 1,000 people, but only about 17 people had ended up there by Monday morning.

Near Elfers Parkway in New Port Richey, streets had become waterways with fast-moving river currents two or three feet deep rushing across the roads that linked dozens of homes along the Anclote. “We’ll be delivering water most of the day,” Diel said.

Pasco County firefighters teamed up with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers to deliver cases of drinking water to homes in the Anclote River Estates area. The homes are surrounded by a toxic tea-colored cocktail of river water and rain, mixed with liberal amounts of raw sewage from flooded septic systems.

One mother watched her pre-school age son play in the filthy floodwater on Ringold Avenue. She insisted there was nothing harmful in it.

Pasco County Fire Captain Thomas Carpinone strongly disagrees. “Septic water is bubbling up from the septic systems,” Carpinone said. He insists it’s not healthy for people of any age to play in.

“Absolutely not,” Carpinone said. “Absolutely not.”

An FWC swamp buggy slowly made it’s way through Anclote River Estates, past flooded cars and debris, as people passed by on the street paddling canoes and kayaks. Pasco firefighters fanned out for door-to-door welfare checks, delivering cases of drinking water to anyone who asked for some. There were plenty of takers.

Among those who stayed behind to weather the high water was 92-year-old Clyde Rich. Rich lives alone in a mobile home a block away from the river. On Monday his trailer  was surrounded by brown water. The river rose to within a foot of Rich’s floorboards.

He was determined to ride out the flooding as he has done many times before. “I’m protecting my property,” Rich said. “I’ve been through a lot of floods and I have a pretty good idea about how much water’s gonna come in.

Rich believes if Pasco County spent some money to dredge the river, he and his neighbors wouldn’t have to endure this kind of misery year after year. “A friend of mine went to a meeting the other night and they said it would cost too much money,” Rich said. “That don’t make sense at all.”

But for the moment, like many of his neighbors, Rich is resigned to the mercurial rise and fall of the Anclote River, even if it means days of difficulty and the never-ending threat of destroying their homes. He also appreciates the drinking water delivered by firefighters, who waded through murky water up to their thighs Monday to place it at his front door.

“I appreciate it very much,” Rich said. “They do that every year.”

Pasco County’s Human Needs Teams and Damage Assessment Teams continued visiting flooded communities in western Pasco County Monday. More than 350 Pasco County employees and volunteers turned out Monday morning to help with human needs and damage assessments.

The county says 2,480 residents are possibly affected in evacuation areas.

Some people have refused to evacuate. They make due when it comes to daily chores.

“Take a boat out, or a kayak, yeah take a kayak out and hope somebody can meet you to do a store run,” said James Robbins, who is experiencing his second flood since moving in to his Anclote River home.

Robbins moved to the area because of the river, with its docks, fishing and lifestyle. “When the rains come or the hurricanes come rolling through, it makes it unlivable.”

Pasco County has a 1,000 bed shelter available for citizens who need help. The Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter is located at 11611 Denton Avenue in Hudson. Citizens can get three meals a day, take a shower and sleep at the shelter. Citizens can self evacuate directly to the shelter or call (727) 847-2422 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the county will provide transportation.

Peter Bernard contributed to this report. 

  • REPORT FLOOD DAMAGE: All residents who have damage, please report the damage to Pasco County Customer Service at 727.847.2411 or email at customerservice@pascocountyfl.net
  • GARBAGE PICKUP: There will be no garbage pickup as long as a road is flooded. This is to help prevent long-term damage to your road.
  • PUBLIC INFORMATION: Go to http://www.pascocountyfl.net for the latest information, read under press release section or go to http://www.PascoEmergencyMangement.com
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers used a highwater vehicle to deliver water to residents in the Elfers area on Monday.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers used a highwater vehicle to deliver water to residents in the Elfers area on Monday.
A flooded neighborhood in Elfers.
A flooded neighborhood in Elfers.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers used a highwater vehicle to deliver water to residents in the Elfers area on Monday.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers used a highwater vehicle to deliver water to residents in the Elfers area on Monday.

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