Pasco County flood damage tops $85 million

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Emergency management officials say Hurricane Hermine could be one of the county's most expensive storms as damage from flooding has hit at least $89 million.

Officials say that total only includes damage to private property.

More than 2600 homes and businesses were impacted by the storm. Of the homes effected, 305 had major damage and 7 were destroyed.

County emergency managers believe Pasco will reach the damage threshold required for federal assistance, but it could take weeks until they know for sure.

The county also says it plans to seek grants to buy people out of homes which continually flood, particularly in Elfers on the banks of the Anclote River. Emergency Services Director Kevin Guthrie's goal for some of the homes closest to the river is to turn the area into a park.

At the Blue Heron Point Mobile Home Park, the neighborhood is finally beginning to dry out. Park owner George Sebesta says the flooding is directly caused by a county-owned retention pond on the lot next to his.

Sebesta says the county hasn't properly maintained or inspected the pond, which has contributed to the flooding.

"[Flooding] four times in four years, three times in 14 months nobody deserves to go through that when it's avoidable," Sebesta said.

DiAnna Rawleigh, public works manager, says the pond has been inspected and maintained. She admits the maintenance is largely cosmetic and that any re-engineering is too expensive for the county.

County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey says the county has identified $300-million worth of storm water projects that will help solve Pasco County's flooding issues, but a failed attempt to raise the storm water fee has not helped.

"We have been going around trying to assess the fixes for some of these older neighborhoods that were built without any strormwater systems in them and we have a rought estimate of what that's gonna cost, $300 million dollars. We have no idea where that money's coming from right now," Starkey said.