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Gov. Rick Scott tours flood-damaged areas in Pasco County

1:12 PM, Jun 29, 2012   |    comments
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New Port Richey, Florida - Governor Rick Scott continued his statewide tour in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby's deluge as the process begins to seek federal aid.

He's already made stops in Wakulla and Suwannee counties, which experienced heavy flooding and sinkholes.

"We've had families impacted all over the state that have lost their homes, we've lost some lives," said Governor Scott.

It wasn't just Tropical Storm Debby's winds, but the floods that have drowned properties, homes, public property and businesses across the state.

"As we moved into the wee hours of Monday morning, we discovered these people were in deep trouble," Annette Doying, Pasco County's Emergency Manager explained to Governor Scott, over a map showing the areas flooded during Debby's deluge.

Pasco County estimates about 7,000 addresses were impacted by the floods and a couple of thousand people heeded the county's warning and evacuated earlier this week when the rivers swelled well over their flood stages.

Doying says 19 people still have nowhere to go and will be moved from the emergency shelter to a hotel on Friday night. Three additional special needs patients and two cats are also still seeking shelter.

County inspectors have spent the last few days, assessing the damage.

"We know we have a $4 million of public infrastructure damage. We've got 28 public facilities that we know sustained damage, direct damage, uninsured damage," explained Doying. "We also know our road system incurred extensive damage... everything from potholes to the actual bed of the road system undermined and bridges that were washed out. Our beaches were also eroded. We don't have the white sandy beaches of Pinellas County because we are the Nature Coast, but nonetheless, we have beaches and they were damaged as well."

The Governor toured the areas of Seven Springs, made a quick stop at a local diner to talk to residents and then drove through the Elfers Parkway area where some homes are still surrounded by the swelled Anclote River.

"We've started the assessments today with the federal government to see what sort of programs will come into play," Governor Scott explained earlier.

Twenty teams of state and federal inspectors are in nine counties Friday and will eventually get to all areas in the state impacted by the storm, to assess what was damaged, to what extent and how much.

"If we meet the threshold that is required for a Presidential Declaration -- which is based on population of both the state and the county -- then we would be eligible to request Presidential Declaration," said Bryan Koon, Director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management.

Koon says we should have a statewide damage estimate by mid-week next week and know whether a Presidential Declaration of Emergency will happen and open up the doors for federal aid.

The Governor declared a State of Emergency this week to begin the process.

"People need help, they need help," said Albert Clark, whose home was still surrounded by flood water Friday morning.

He says his house stayed dry on the inside this time around. They built on higher ground after losing their house to flood waters during the 2004 storms that brought a constant onslaught of rain.

A utility box was submerged though, as was the bottom portion of his home.

He's hoping aid will come, "There's a lot of us in here who are unemployed, including myself due to layoffs which happened to be after 38 ½ years at a particular company, but people in here need help."

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