NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - Residents along the Anclote River are used to flooding after heavy rains.
The river's banks rise, destroying property and stranding homeowners. Now, Pasco County officials are helping folks fed-up with the high water to relocate.
Deanna Chapman has lived along Elfers Parkway for 31-years. She says the frequent flooding is a headache.
“I am so tired of parking the cars down the street with all your possessions. You don’t know if they’re gonna be safe or not, trying to find somewhere else to stay,” she said.
When Deanna found out the county was trying to help people move away from the river, she jumped at the chance.
“I would have gotten out of here a long time ago had I thought the property was worth enough money to buy another place,” she said.
She’s one of 12 property owners in the Elfers area who want to relocate.
County officials submitted applications this week seeking about $2.5 million in federal disaster recovery funds to buy those plots and help the families move.
“It is mainly to help those of low and moderate income, but we have other homeowners who are considered urgent need, meaning that they’re in a dangerous situation such as this flooding which happens every year with the Anclote,” said Laura Wilcoxen, Assistant Director of Pasco County Emergency Management. “During 2016, with Hurricane Hermine, the water was flowing so fast through there that we couldn’t even put a swift water rescue team in there. It was too dangerous for responders to get back there.”
Wilcoxen says this type of free money is rare, yet only about 6 percent of eligible homeowners are taking advantage.
Across the Sunshine State, $20 million is up for grabs to help folks impacted by Hurricane Hermine. Qualifying Pasco County residents could be paid for the value of their property, plus up to $25,000 extra if they stay in the county.
“I would have thought more people would have wanted to relocate away from that hazard,” Wilcoxen said.
For Deanna, there’s really only one must-have if she gets the chance to move to a new house.
“Away from water,” she laughed.
Wilcoxen tells FOX 13 News it will be months before the county finds out if it’s awarded any of the grant money. If that happens, she says the approved homes will be demolished and that will hopefully lessen some of the flooding.