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More rain showers Pasco with worries

7:55 PM, Jul 23, 2012   |    comments
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Streets remain flooded in Pasco's Thousand Oaks neighborhood, weeks after Tropical Storm Debby dumped inches of rain.
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Pasco County, Florida - Jason Richko plunks down heavy sandbags and just like the bags, the thought of more rain weighs him down.

"We're concerned any type of rain that comes -- we're in trouble," says Richko, who lives in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood. "So we went and picked up some sandbags today."

Tropical Storm Debby flooded Richko's house and he's now in the process of replacing floors. But last week, a rainstorm once again flooded neighborhood streets and threatened homes, so residents are beyond the point of frustration and they're looking to the county for help.

"They have to fix what the problem is," says Richko. "Everyone in the community cannot go on with their daily lives wondering if they're going to be flooded."

"Somebody needs to do something," Richko's neighbor Tim Whipple agrees. "I mean, a lot of homes were damaged in this area."

But county officials say quick fixes are hard to come by. With retention ponds and ditches already full from Debby, officials say if they pump from one spot, they'll just flood another.

"Once it's (the water) there, there's nowhere for it to go and it stays for an extended period of time," says Pasco Public Works Director Mike Garrett.

But flooding has been a problem here before. Both residents and county officials say the Southwest Water Management District (SWIFTMUD) permitted construction too near the water table.

A SWIFTMUD spokesperson denies permitting mistakes were made, but Robyn Felix says the agency is now looking for some drainage fixes.

"Yes, there definitely is a problem with the system," says Felix. "And we're working with the county to try and address it for the future."

One of the possible solutions being talked about is the dredging of wetlands in the area, so they'd hold more water, but that would take additional permitting and time. In the meantime, neighborhood residents say they'll attend Tuesday's county commission meeting, to try and make sure their drainage problems are put on the front burner.

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