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Nervous Pasco residents watch rising water, evacuations underway

10:22 PM, Jun 26, 2012   |    comments
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New Port Richey, Florida - They gathered by the dozens, men and women, suited up in rain gear, thick boots and black t-shirts with a familiar title emblazoned on back.

There was one word in all capital letters - SHERIFF.

Deputies from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office set out on a rescue mission Tuesday in New Port Richey, in search of people in peril during massive flooding and rescue them.

Tropical Storm Debby created quite the mess with extensive flooding from non-stop rain.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco told 10 News, "We are here to protect these people and get them out of their homes safely."

A mandatory evacuation order was put into effect early in the day as the water rose quickly in multiple neighborhoods around the county.

One woman watched the water from her front yard and cried, "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. I've been here for twelve years. We've never seen anything like this."

Entire neighborhoods were completely under water. In fact, the levels began rising so quickly that people had to get out of their homes and fast.

"I didn't know if we were going to get out by boat or by driving," said Eleanor Dettaff, as she and her husband Larry were packing up their things at the Seven Springs Travel Park along Old County Road 54.

Residents like Eleanor and Larry were removed from their home by boat.  "I don't think I ever want to be in a situation like this again," joked Eleanor.  "My kids just want to make sure we are safe."

And, they are.

Still, the efforts continue, as deputies literally travel door-to-door by foot, whenever possible, and by boat to get people out of their homes.  Many residents still do not have power at this point.

The evacuation order officially began just before noon as communities saw an increase in rising water.  Emergency officials say they were worried primarily about flooding in the areas between the Anclote and Pithlachascotee Rivers.

The Sheriff's Office said that these are the official areas with evacuation orders. The western part of the evacuation area is the Anclote River-Thys Road.

Then, the eastern boundary is considered Little Road, while the northern boundary is Plathe Road

The southern boundary officially starts on Perrine Ranch Road and then goes east to Perrine Ranch Road. 

It then turns north on Seven Springs Boulevard and will continue east along Mitchell Ranch Road, then goes east on State Road 54 to Little Road.

Several communities are considered ground zero, so to speak, for the rising waters.  They are Seven Springs Trailer Park, Mill Pond Estates and nearby neighborhoods.

"People are going willingly," said Sheriff Nocco. "They know it is not safe. When you see a dad go back into a house to get a respirator for his daughter, it really hits home."

One man, Scott Baldwin, said he was going to stay in his home.  He kissed his wife goodbye as she scooped up their puppies and evacuated.   Baldwin smiled, "I love her, that's it.  Those dogs are our kids. I will be fine.  I have my truck, I can get out if I need to."

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