NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Rising water on the Anclote and Cotee rivers lead to a call for mandatory evacuations in many New Port Richey neighborhoods Tuesday.
Deputies huddled up in a Walmart parking lot, mapping areas they would survey. Then they hit the ground in the Mill Pond neighborhood going door to door to advise people to get out before the water rises more and electricity to the area is shut off..
"What will I do with my house," one woman asked deputies who told her to leave.
Marge McDaniel prepared to leave with her caretaker Virginia and a box of medication. "I don't really want to leave but I guess we have to. We don't have a choice, do we?"
The Sheriff's Office says while the evacuations are mandatory, they would not force people out of their homes. An estimated 20,000 people live in the affected areas.
Some neighborhoods are under water, but others are still relatively dry. "We anticipate it's going to get worse, so most of the people did voluntarily say they are going to leave," said Lt. Rodney Bishop with the Pasco Sheriff's Office.
The local VFW helped out, bringing in military transport trucks to get people in and out. Mark Goss says they can drive through just about anything. "That's why we're here."
And where trucks can't go, like the Seven Springs mobile home park, Florida Fish and wildlife brought out boats.
Those who were brought out were taken to staging areas, where it was recommended they stay with friends or relatives. Otherwise they were transported to one of two shelters.
As of Tuesday evening those shelters were housing more than 50 people.
Here is more information released by county officials Tuesday:
Pasco County emergency responders continue to assist residents in the evacuation area at risk due to flooding between the Anclote and Pithlachascotee Rivers. The boundaries are as follows:
- The western boundary of the evacuation area is the Anclote River/Thys Rd.
- The eastern boundary of the evacuation is Little Rd.
- The northern boundary is Plathe Rd.
- The southern boundary begins on Perrine Ranch Road and runs east to the intersection of Perrine Ranch Road, turns north on Seven Springs Boulevard, then runs east along Mitchell Ranch Road and continues east on S.R. 54 to the intersection of S.R. 54 and Little Rd.
The evacuation order also includes other locations ordered evacuated by local authorities due to conditions posing a threat to life, health or safety.
Communities located in the area are urged to evacuate during daylight hours and emergency responders are arriving by boat and vehicles to assist residents. Law enforcement officials in the area are setting up traffic check points to assist residents who may be returning from work and need to assist their families and protect property. Power officials have turned off the power in the evacuation areas and it may not be restored for a couple of days.
Residents who can evacuate independently are encouraged to take their disaster kit in their vehicle and drive to friends, family or hotels out of the flooded area. Anyone needing shelter can go to:
- Chasco Elementary, 7906 Ridge Road, Port Richey
- Fasano Shelter, 11611 Denton Ave., in Hudson.
Persons with special needs or pets should go to the Fasano shelter. Residents who need assistance to evacuate their home should call the Resident Information Center at 727-847-8959. If you have water entering your home and need life-saving assistance call 9-1-1.
In addition, the School District is canceling summer programs and the PLACE program for Wednesday, June 27 at the following schools/locations:
Richey Elementary, Cotee River Elementary, Deer Park Elementary, James Marlowe Elementary, Mittye P. Locke Elementary, Anclote Elementary, Seven Springs Elementary, Longleaf Elementary, Trinity Elementary, Trinity Oaks Elementary, Sunray Elementary, Gulf Trace Elementary, Gulfside Elementary, Gulf Middle, Gulf High, Anclote High, Paul R. Smith Middle, Seven Springs Middle, J.W. Mitchell High and Harry Schwettman Education Center.
All other schools and work sites will be open. Parents of PLACE program students from the impacted schools will have the option of bringing their children to the PLACE program at one of the following schools:
Schrader Elementary, Moon Lake Elementary, Northwest Elementary, Mary Giella Elementary, Hudson Elementary or Gulf Highlands Elementary.
Rains from Tropical Storm Debby have caused flooding above the 100 year flood level. Pasco County remains under a Tropical Storm Warning. Weather officials are forecasting another 3-6 inches
of rain through Friday as Debby makes landfall.
In addition sand and sandbags are available at:
- West Pasco Government Center, 7536 State St., New Port Richey
- 7918 Rhodes Rd., Hudson, Fire Station #10,
- 2952 Seven Springs Blvd., New Port Richey, Fire Station #17
- Mitchell Field Park located at 4711 Little Rd, New Port Richey
- 6907 Dairy Rd., Zephyrhills, Fire Station #1