Hurricane Hermine costing Pasco Co. property owners millions

$89 million in damage assessments
Posted at 6:53 PM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 18:53:57-04

New damage assessments reveal how much Hurricane Hermine is costing Pasco County property owners. 

More than 350 county employees and volunteers went door-to-door after the hurricane conducting health checks and logging property damage. 

Pasco County Emergency Management identified approximately $89 million in damages and documented 2,672 homes and properties impacted by the storm. 

Hurricane Hermine destroyed seven houses, meaning the structure experienced flooding with water above door knobs or houses with parts of the roof or walls missing due to falling trees. 

Director of Emergency Services Kevin Guthrie announced Wednesday it's a strong possibility Hermine is the most expensive storm in Pasco County's history. 

Guthrie said the damage totals are the result of both a powerful storm and aggressive damage assessments by county crews. 

"We had our folks go over every square inch of this county looking for water that's on property, looking for water lines on houses," said Guthrie. "We went out and found those storms."

Conditions have proved so problematic year after year in spots like Bass Lake and Elfers along the Anclote River, ABC Action News has learned that Pasco County is eyeing $4 million in federal grant money to buy properties in those communities. 

County leaders believe the best way to prevent future damage done by heavy rain events is to move resents out of the area altogether. 

“It’s my hope and dream that that area will become a park and a canoe launch and that we can get those folks into a safer place where they don’t have to worry about the water every year," said Pasco Co. Commissioner Catherine Starkey. 

According to county officials, 162 properties experience repetitive loss or severe repetitive loss during flood events.  Those are the locations county officials will first look to offer a buyout or offer assistance with elevating the property. 

But it's clear that not everyone will be on board.  Commissioner Starkey said she already faced opposition to the idea during a visit this week in Elfers, a community where many flooded out residents refuse to leave their properties.

"She told me it was going to be a cold day in Hell, or Hades, before she ever lets the government buy her home," said Starkey. "So I think we are going to have some challenges there."

Initial damage estimates show Pasco County residents could be eligible for relief money from FEMA. 

County officials planned to send in their report to Tallahassee Wednesday. 

All residents are still urged to report storm-related damage to Pasco County Customer Service at (727) 847-2411.