PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The Elfers community of Pasco County has flooded four times in the past three years and the county says they want to help residents get out.
Laura Wilcoxen, the Assistant Director of Pasco County Emergency Management, says the Community Development Block Grant Disaster-Relief, would buy back homes for people that qualify at the values before Hurricane Hermine and Matthew flooded the area.
“This hasn’t happened in Pasco County before, to get this type of funding, what this funding does is it allows us to value the home at pre-storm conditions,” Wilcoxen said. “So, if somebody couldn’t sell their home now, they might have an extra incentive to get that pre-storm value. Plus, this grant would offer $10K to $25K in moving funds. The more interest we have the better our opportunity has.”
We spoke to people in the area who told us they want to leave but the recent floods have lowered their property values.
“If the numbers are right. I am interested,” Mike Dunkerly said. Dunkerly bought his home on Elfers Parkway in 2014. He had no idea that in 2015, 2016, and 2017 his home would be surrounded with water.
“The guy I bought from told me the house didn’t flood,” Dunkerly said. “And, it didn’t sink into me the area flooded and we wouldn’t be able to get in and out.”
Dunkerly said his home has never flooded, it is built up six feet above the ground. But, he has had to evacuate multiple times and been cut off after water turned his home into an island.
“The problem is, I gotta pretty unique house, and the value of it I’m not sure I’ll be able to recover,” Dunkerly said.
ABC Action News saw a number of abandoned homes along Elfers Parkway including one that appeared to have squatters inside.
Of the 212 homes in the Elfers area that would qualify for the grant, Wilcoxen said people for and against the grant was split 50/50.
Wilcoxen said the constant flooding is putting a strain on county resources and making it dangerous for residents and first responders.
"The river was so, the swift water in that area we couldn’t even put a swift water rescue there to rescue any of the residents,” Wilcoxen said. “If they don’t participate they could just continue to experience the possibilities of another disaster.”
Dunkerly is applying for the grant. The county asking residents to get all their paperwork in by May 14, their deadline to file is May 31.
Anyone wanting information can call Wilcoxen at 727-847-8137.