More than 4 days after Hurricane Hermine left her mark on Florida, people in Pasco County are still dealing with flooding and damage.
Residents in Port Richey’s Palm Terrace Gardens were dealing with waist-deep water last week. Florence Powers is one of many on her block still cleaning up after the storm.
“It’s a mess, it’s a mess,” said Powers. “It came all the way up to the door and we were bailing that water just to keep it out of the house.”
Powers never imagined moving to Palm Terrace Gardens would put her property at risk.
“The first thing we asked when we moved into the house was if it’s a flood zone. And he said ‘no, it’s not.’ We’ve been flooded out three times in three years,” said Powers.
Even though residents say damaging floods are common after a major storm event, the neighborhood is not a FEMA-designated flood zone.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency updates Flood Insurance Rate Maps every five years. The most recent maps were updated September 2014.
“Every time we get those hard rains, boy my heart start pounding because the first thing I think is I’m going to get flooded again,” said Palm Terrace Gardens resident Hazel Quarterman.
FEMA records indicate the area is prone to only quote “moderate” flooding.
According to Pasco County Public Works, the Port Richey neighborhood is within the Double Hammock watershed. Pasco County and Southwest Florida Water Management District are co-funding an ongoing Watershed Management Plan study. New flood zone maps will be developed that could include changes to Palm Terrace Gardens’ designation and sent for incorporation into FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
Neighbors say flooding is always a concern due to poor drainage at a retention pond on Foxbloom Drive.
Pasco County officials say they are working on a long-term project to improve the area’s infrastructure.
“We are laying about 1,000 foot of hose with three pumps,” said Kevin Guthrie, Director of Emergency Services for Pasco County. “A 6 inch pump and two 8 inch pumps to get that pumped into another reservoir system to start helping those individuals.”
While neighbors in Palm Terrace Gardens wait for a permanent fix, many are left paying for voluntary flood insurance.
“We thought we were safe here,” said Powers. “We didn’t even have flood insurance but we just now got flood insurance and that saved ourselves this time.”