Withlacoochee flooding could get worse, residents fear

The National Weather Service extended a flood warning for families living along part of the Withlacoochee River in Hernando County until 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The Withlacoochee River is at minor flood stage at a little more than 12 feet and, with Tropical Storm Gordon potentially impacting the area, emergency management officials are concerned the river could quickly rise.

It would have to hit 16.5 feet to reach major flood stage, which homeowners fear is a possibility with heavy rain in the forecast through Saturday.

"[We're] preparing for everything. We're stocking up on water gas, everything we need, making sure my animals are OK," said Glenda Hagelston, who lives in the Webster area and whose backyard is already partially flooded.

Several roads around Hagelston's home are underwater and shut down.

This is an area that saw severe flooding almost exactly one year ago following Hurricane Irma and homeowners are concerned this year could be as bad or worse.

"I think it's up higher now than it was at this time last year. But with all this rain we're getting right now, I think it's going to be way worse," Hagelston said. "We definitely think we're going to deal with it again. That's why we got our Jeep and everything else going because that's our transportation in and out of here."

"We know it's going to flood and better get the boats ready to get out here," said Nate Ward, one of Hagelston's neighbors.

According to the National Weather Service, a canoe rental facility and some campsites are already flooded.

Hernando County Emergency Management is monitoring the situation. Officials recommend homeowners in flood-prone areas be prepare to evacuate if necessary.