Tampa Bay area residents preparing for possible flooding

- Tampa Bay residents, visitors and businesses are being urged to prepare for potential flooding this week, Florida's Division of Emergency Management said in a news release Saturday evening.

FOX 13 meteorologists are predicting the possibility of several inches of rain that could heavily impact the northern Tampa Bay counties.

That is a scary thought for folks in Pasco County who, exactly one year ago, were dealing with torrential rains that caused severe flooding in several communities like Elfers and Bass Lake.

"It was bad," said Wade Sturgis, who ended up homeless for months. "I was in the hospital [while the flooding was happening]. I got out and everything was gone."

Sturgis said he has since been working construction jobs and getting back on his feet, but it hasn't been easy. He finally moved into a new home off of Elfers Parkway.

Sturgis is nervous about what might happen to his current place if the Anclote River, which is basically in his backyard, overflows again.

"If we flood again, people that don't live in areas like this, they don't know," he said. "People will help you, but once you get down it's hard to get back up."

One of his new neighbors, Rita Blair, has lived in the Elfers area for more than 30 years and has seen several floods, but the one in 2015 stands out.

"I moved my car to the high point in the yard, I go to bed. By the time I woke up in the morning, it was too late to move the car," she said.

Blair said it took more than a month for the water to go down.

"It's very depressing. It beats you up. You can't go anywhere. I was stuck in there for days," she explained. "Maybe this year I'll pack up and move out for a few weeks. I'm not going to stay there this time. I'm over it."

Pasco County inmates started helping residents fill sand bags Saturday morning. Crews put drainage pumps in place to try to minimize flooding, if possible.

Meantime, residents are doing what they've become so accustomed to doing.

"Get prepared," Blair said. "There's nothing you can do but prepare; put as much as you can up, try to salvage just in case."

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