Residents living along creek in Palm Harbor raise flooding concerns

Neighbors plead for help from the county
Posted at 8:07 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-22 20:07:08-04

Neighbors living along Bee Branch Creek in Palm Harbor say it's just a matter of time before another rain storm floods their homes.

In the past 5 years there have been 3 flooding events. They say a lack of maintenance on the creek is one of the factors causing the flooding.

"I have this list of what to do in case it floods." Sandra Hurst said as she pulled out a list of 19 tasks. In just 5 years, her house has flooded twice, causing major damage.

She and her husband have now flood proofed their house as much as they can. They have caulked shut glass sliding doors and a back door. Their home is filled with plastic bins, so valuables can survive the next deluge. Closets are filled with the bins, jackets are wrapped in plastic bags on the hangers and any drawers that are lower than two feet from the floor are empty.

"I have everything off the floor and in tubs." She explained.

Hurst and her husband have lived in their home on Pennsylvania Avenue for nearly 50 years. There has been plenty of development in the area since then. County officials say more water has been diverted into the creek that runs along their home. The Hurst's say the problems started in 2006.

"2006, that's when we started having problems and everyone else." She said.

Hurst says she started asking the county for help 5 years ago. She says very little has been done. The county has cut back some brush here and there and, on occasion, clears culverts of debris. Hurst says before 2006, the county would dredge the creek every year or two. It's been at least 10 years since it has been done.

Today, a culvert going underneath Pennsylvania Avenue was severely clogged. County workers cleared the blockage after ABC Action News made a phone call to a county commissioner.

Yesterday, the water went over its banks and crept all the way to the door-step of several homes, including Hurst's. It was during high-tide, which added to the excess water. 

The flooding has also affected several homes in the Caladesi RV Park and a nearby church in the past. 

County Commissioner Dave Eggers says he has been working to find a solution, but says it takes time and money. He is having a meeting to discuss storm water solutions in about two weeks. Potential long-term ideas include purchasing land to store excess water and altering the direction of the canal.