PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - Motoring through several feet of water Tuesday afternoon, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers created a wake on their "Swamp Buggy" that looked like what a boat would create on a river.
Except, the New Port Richey "river" they're gliding through is lined by mailboxes, because it's actually a street.
"Doing welfare checks, see if anyone flags us down, and they do need to get out of here," explained FWC Officer Barry Shaw. "This is a first for me. This is definitely the worst in this job on the buggy for flooding."
Officer Shaw and his team joined dozens of crews around Pasco County, enforcing a mandatory evacuation, which many residents refused to follow.
Even those living in areas with water flooding up to their doors decided to stay and wait it out.
"There's people's lives at risk," explained Sheriff Chris Nocco.
In addition to flooding emergencies, Sheriff Nocco's also concerned about looting, given that an estimated 500 homes were vacant Tuesday night.
"If someone wants to loot in Pasco County, we'll bring them to the Land O' Lakes jail," Sheriff Nocco said. "That will be their shelter."
About 60 people took refuge at the Fasano shelter, set up at the Pasco County Health Department in Hudson.
"It was flooding and it kept getting really high," explained Frances Lang.
Lang, 12, picked out a cot at the shelter with her brothers, father, and grandmother. She brought a bag filled with water, her cell phone, a word puzzle, and her uncle's ashes.
"Anything in life's material except your life and your kids," her dad, Steve, said. "Once you got your life and your kids, you got everything you need."
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