Flood watches are in effect this afternoon and evening in Pasco and Hernando counties, a day after another round of severe storms drenched already saturated grounds.
From 3 to 6 inches of rain fell in those counties on Thursday evening, making several roads impassable and forcing a handful of residents into shelters as rising waters threatened their homes. Emergency personnel rescued individuals from their cars who entered flooding roads and stalled.
A flood watch means that flooding is possible during the next 24 to 36 hours. Residents living in flood prone areas should take action to protect property.
Several roads were closed overnight in Pasco, but just two remained closed this morning, said Michael Garrett, the county’s public works director.
The most dramatic is Jessamine Road in east Pasco, where the road was washed out, leaving a 30-by-30-foot hole. The washout was originally called a sinkhole, but officials today now call it a washed out road.
Jessamine remains shut down between Jim Denney Road north to Chipco Lane.
“It’s going to be awhile before we get that one opened,” Garrett said. “We’re setting up detours now. It’s a relatively unpopulated area, but it’s still a road people use.”
The roads and storm drains are 40 to 50 years old and can’t handle the intense rainfall, he said. This was the third major road washout in Pasco County in the last year. Tropical Storm Debby caused a major washout on St. Joe Road, and Pasco used FEMA funds to repair it. Earlier this summer, heavy rains caused a culvert to fail under Parkway Boulevard.
“It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars just to stabilize Parkway Boulevard,” Garrett said. “We’re going to do the repair in September.”
School board member Allen Altman, who lives on Jessamine Road a few hundred yards from the washout, said he drove out to see it after he arrived home from work Thursday evening.
“It’s pretty good size,” he said.
His commute to work takes him in the opposite direction, so he’s not affected by the road closure as are residents on the other side of the hole.
“It’s an inconvenience, but not any great concern,” he said.
The washout wasn’t the only weather-related excitement in the neighborhood. Lightning struck an oak tree behind school Superintendent Kurt Browning’s house, sparking some flames, but that was quickly taken care of, Altman said.
“Hey, it’s Florida in the summertime,” he said.
In addition to the Jessamine closing, Bellamy Brothers Road in east Pasco was flooded and remains closed from St. Joe Road north to the Hernando County line, Garrett said. Most of the flooding was centralized in the Land O’ Lakes area, which received 3 inches of rain in a single hour.
“We closed about a dozen roads last night because they were under water,” he said. “They’re open now, but I suspect if we get another storm this afternoon they’ll be underwater again.”
Barricades were placed along the following roads:
• Carl Drive
• Johnston Road
• Birdsong Drive
• Tampa Downs Boulevard
• Still Dust Drive
• Dayflower Boulevard
• Angus Valley Drive
• Blackhawk Drive
• Quail Hollow Boulevard
• Avocet Drive
• Green Willow Run
• Debbie Lane
• Lindenhurst Drive
• Boyette Road
In Brooksville, the roadway east of the intersection of Fort Dade Avenue at Cobb Road is closed, possibly due to a washout or sinkhole, the Hernando sheriff’s office said.
The sheriff’s office said other roads closed or to be avoided are:
• Horse Lake Road near Barnett and Wiscon roads
• Rackley Road
• Culbreath Road at the Pasco line
• Saturn Road
• Clinton at Providence boulevards
• Daffodil Drive at Whisper Loop
Several agencies in Hernando worked together to evacuate people from flooded homes and areas deemed unsafe, according to the sheriff’s office, which is putting together a damage assessment team.
A shelter was opened at First United Methodist Church, 109 S. Broad St., Brooksville, to help people affected by the flooding. A handful of families took advantage overnight.
To protect property from floodwaters, Pasco is offering sand and sandbags at these locations:
• Pasco County Public Works Complex, 7530 State St., New Port Richey
• Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, 3032 Collier Parkway, Land O’ Lakes
• C-Barn, 3908 Warder Road., San Antonio
Citizens must bring their own shovel and are limited to 25 sand bags per household.
In Hernando, sandbags are available at the Brooksville Fire Department, 85 Veterans Ave, Brooksville.
Stay with TBO.com for updates.