Pasco residents hopeful after heavy rains do not cause floods

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Two days of heavy rains would normally put folks living in flood-prone areas of Pasco County on edge, but after the weather let up Wednesday neighbors were hopeful this year might be different.

But that wasn't the case earlier in the day when some people saw the rain and felt a little uneasy.

"I was thinking, well here we go, this is the rain that's going to flood us again," said Paul Centella, who has lived in Bass Lake for 16 years and knows how bad things can get. "The flood two years ago was the worst I've seen in 16 years."

That was when Bass Lake was underwater for weeks. The flooding didn't last as long in 2016, but still caused some headaches for homeowners.

By early Wednesday evening, however, the lake level was still low. Centella thinks the extended dry period in the spring has something to do with it.

"The water level went down to almost drought level this year, which it didn't in the last two, so I think that gave us a little bit of a head start," he said. "I just hope that the current drainage system can keep up and we don't get hammered with an unreasonable amount of rain in a short period."

Things are off to a good start in Elfers, which sits on the edge of the Anclote River and is another community that is often among the first to flood during the rainy season.

"[Last year] it was all water. It was like I had a swimming pool instead of a yard," said Jane Gambrel.

The river level is currently at 10 feet and would need to double to reach flood stage.

"That's what I want, no flooding," Gambrel said.

Doug Tobin, a Pasco County spokesperson, said the dry spring gave crews extra time to clear out some of the drainage areas.

"I think that period allowed for us to deal with some of the stormwater cleanup," Tobin said, adding the county is hopeful this week was a sign of positive things to come. "The last tropical storm that came through, fortunately, all the rain went to the south, we didn't get as much rain as we could have received."

Tobin said homeowners are urged to make sure they don't have any debris clogging stormwater drains.

Meanwhile, despite all the positive vibes right now, longtime residents like Centella know how quickly things can change.

"All it takes is three good days of rain or a hurricane to come through and it can go back up to those levels," he said.