Tropical Storm Debby: Pasco residents cry as they evacuate flooded homes

9:10 PM, Jun 27, 2012   |    comments
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PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Leaving your home under severe and dangerous conditions is never easy. In fact, it is a traumatic situation that certainly has Pasco County residents on edge.

Those who live in the Suncoast Gateway Mobile Home Park off Ridge Road near Highway 19 in Port Richey know exactly how it feels. On Wednesday morning, their property became ground zero for massive evacuations.

One man clutched his fluffy white poodle mix tightly as he and well over a dozen others were evacuated by air boat. Another woman wiped tears as she handled her bags and loaded them onto a bus to transport her to a shelter.

Another resident said, "Terrible. This is terrible. That's all I can say."

The water simply won't recede in several mobile home parks, like Suncoast, and other neighborhoods around Pasco. It has swallowed the entire property at Suncoast Gateway Mobile Home Park. Homes are saturated, and the driveways are impassable with waist-deep water levels on part of the property.

It is a mess. Even though the mandatory evacuation order has been lifted, it will be a while before some residents return to their homes throughout the county. 

Because of the massive flooding, the electricity was turned off at the mobile home park, and other neighborhoods, as a safety precaution. At Suncoast, the residents were taken in boats off the property to a shelter.

How long will this flooding last? Debby is long gone, but her effects are plaguing residents as they cope.

Roughly ten miles southeast from the Suncoast Gateway Mobile Home Park, residents made a shocking discovery off of State Road 54. People called 911 after they saw a body floating in the flooded street. Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said it was the body of a middle-aged white man.

The cause of death is still under investigation. Many wonder if it was a result of the flooding. Did the man drown? The medical examiner will make that determination.

The sheriff commended the strength of Pasco citizens. "The people of Pasco have been through a lot in the last few days. It has made us stronger. We will get through this."

For those residents worried about vandalism to their homes while they are evacuated, the sheriff had this to say: "We will have zero tolerance for looting. You will go to jail. We have extra patrols and deputies in unmarked cars protecting property. We will keep the citizens safe."