Pasco Co. residents bring flood concerns to county officials

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Flooded and frustrated.

Tuesday night, neighbors in Pasco County's water logged communities got a chance to air their grievances and tell officials exactly how bad it still is. It was a first in a series of watershed meetings.

County officials were the focus of almost a month's worth of anger and frustration.

Homeowners are demanding not only action now to dry out their homes, but long-term steps to stop it from happening ever again.

"We've had kids fishing in the middle of the road catching two-foot bass," said Patricia Morrow. "The last flood I saw like this was in 1960."

"My kids are sick from all the mold issues," one woman said. "You can smell it in the air."

Tuesday night's meeting focused on the Bear Creek/Pithlachascotee Watershed.

The 171 square miles includes some of the hardest hit neighborhoods like Bass Lake and Cranes Roost.

"131 people are out of their homes using hotel vouchers that we are providing for a few weeks in hopes their drain fields dry up, situations improve at home and they are able to get back home," said Emergency Management Director Annette Doying.

Though officials spent an hour getting everyone on the same page, flood victims were anxious for their say, some interrupting with questions.

One of the biggest points of contention came from Cranes Roost homeowners who say the Ridge Plaza shopping center pumped flood water into the county system, which went into their homes.

"They were all open for business as we were losing our homes," a woman yelled from the crowd.

"I have pictures of five feet of water in my backyard from Walmart. What is the county going to do for us now?" asked another.

"We took their equipment, we reversed the flow, and we have pumped more in the other direction than they have pumped in," said County Administrator Michelle Baker.

Some blame the water issues on new development.

"I'm asking that we have a moratorium on construction until we get a handle," said Hugh Townsend.

All that standing water brings other issues.

"The mosquitoes are nasty everywhere," one resident said. "I call mosquito control and they say they can't get through the roads to help us with mosquitoes."

In total, 46 homes have been destroyed by the recent flooding. Thirty-two have been majorly damaged.

Homeowners want a long-term plan. For now, they're fed up.

"All I can tell you is I'm sorry about what you are going through, and I have been and will continue to work hard with staff to come up with a solution. I promise you that," said District 4 Commissioner Mike Wells.

The next Watershed meeting is Thursday August 27th. It is for the Pinellas Anclote Watershed, which includes Anclote River Estates, Elfers Parkway and Veterans Village neighborhoods.

It's also important to note that beginning Wednesday, the Flood Recovery Center will relocate from State Street to 8620 Galen Wilson Boulevard. The hours will stay the same, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.. So far, they've met with about 200 people.