More rain on Monday caused flood waters to remain at a high level in parts of Pasco County.
A flood warning is in effect for the Elfers Parkway area of New Port Richey through Thursday; barricades are in place to block cars from driving down roads with water that has been up to four feet deep, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
"We're definitely concerned that people's lives are at risk," said Annette Doying, Emergency Management Director for Pasco County.
"This is an evacuation order. Public safety feels that the people in this area are threatened."
An evacuation order remained in place for the Elfers community. There was also a flood watch for all of Pasco County through Monday night.
The sheriff's office spent Monday riding around flooded neighborhoods in a Humvee to check on residents who chose not to evacuate.
"We've been trying to make the best of it. So far power is still on. We've probably got about 28 or 29 inches to go before it reaches the floor [in our home]," said Jack Harvel, who live off Elfers Parkway.
Many neighbors say they've seen worse flooding during the 2012 hurricane season, so they do not plan to leave their homes as long as they have power. Duke Energy assessed the area Sunday night and decided it was safe not to turn off the electricity.
County emergency management officials say flood waters are receding, but it could take days to see neighborhoods near the Anclote River return to normal.
"It just poured in, like some kind of a stream, once it started raining real hard," said Vaso Yount, as she and several other residents packed sandbags to protect their homes off Seven Springs Road in New Port Richey.
The Red Cross opened up an emergency shelter at the First Presbyterian Church in Port Richey. As of late Monday, only one family was taking advantage of it.
"We were in our house, no power, no hot water, the rain kept coming in through the ceiling," said Amanda Bailey who, along with her husband and four children, went to the shelter Sunday night. "I'm very thankful for it. I felt bad for the kids, didn't like seeing my kids in that situation -- no hot water, no way to eat because there's no power."
The Florida Health Department of Pasco County is warning residents to stay out of the water for fear of bacteria and fecal matter in it from sewage. Officials say contaminated standing water can cause illness, and there's a risk of getting bitten by snakes and insects floating in the water.
"We want to avoid children playing in the contaminated water. We want to keep people from wading in it," said Greg Crumpton, Health Manager with the Florida Health Department. "Especially if they're immune compromised, if they have any cuts or sores on their bodies, or if they end up consuming the water.”
Residents with well water should avoid drinking it until flooding subsides, or boil the water prior to using it, if advised.
Health officials offer the following advice for residents after the flooding clears out:
- Disinfect your well using the procedures available from your local health department, or provided on the Department of Health website.
- Have your water tested by your local health department or by a laboratory certified by the State to perform a drinking water analysis.
- Continue to use bottled/boiled/disinfected water until lab tests confirm it is safe.
For more information, please contact your local county health department or www.FloridaDisaster.org.