Weathering the storm
Editor's note: This is the third in a series on the top stories in Pasco County during 2012 as selected by The Pasco Tribune staff. Tropical Storm Debby quickly became the headache that wouldn't go away for Pasco County. The storm began to sock the western portion of the county on June 24. That day, a rainfall record was set as the previous record of 8.63 inches — set in 2004 — was surpassed. In the following days, Debby sat in the Atlantic Ocean churning and whipping bands of rain through local counties. The storm dumped about 15 inches of rain, which quickly led to flooding from the Anclote and Pithlachascotee rivers. The waterways flooded neighborhoods in and around New Port Richey, affecting more than 7,000 residents.Pasco officials were forced to implement a mandatory evacuation shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday for areas bordered by Trouble Creek Road, S.R. 54, Rowan Road, Sawgrass Boulevard and Whitetail Lane. That came about an hour after a voluntary evacuation was issued. One death in Pasco County was attributed to Tropical Storm Debby. Three days after the initial deluge, sheriff's deputies recovered the body of David Glenn Huntley, 46, which was discovered floating in floodwaters about 100 yards south of where the Anclote River crosses Celtic Drive. Huntley was homeless and last lived in New Port Richey. The Pinellas/Pasco Medical Examiner determined drowning was Huntley's cause of death, with "cardiovascular" issues being an additional factor. The medical examiner ruled the death as accidental and storm-related. In the aftermath of the flooding, Pasco Emergency Management Director Annette Doying said 28 government-owned facilities sustained an estimated $4 million in damages. President Barack Obama declared Pasco and several other Florida counties disaster areas, allowing federal aid to become available for victims. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, opened a Disaster Relief Center in New Port Richey to assist those who may have sustained damage or losses due to Tropical Storm Debby. At least $6 million in state and federal aid was provided to residents affected and roughly 1,200 households were approved for FEMA grants for temporary rentals and personal property loss, according to spokesperson Renee Bafalis. As if the flooding wasn't bad enough, residents also had to fight an influx of mosquitoes. The elevated level of dampness proved fertile breeding ground as the number of the insects increased across the region.
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