NEW PORT RICHEY – Struggling through flooded streets and frustrated with a bureaucracy that seems to have run aground, several residents told the Pasco County Commission that they’re tired of waiting for action on roads that not only flood during rainstorms but have stayed flooded during dry intervals.
During public comment at the Tuesday, Aug. 24, meeting, people lined up and told stories of homes surrounded by water, vehicles ruined by driving through high water and stagnant pools that are full of tadpoles and fish.
For some, it’s been 20 years of dealing with water and flooding. Residents demanded that pipes be cleared and that the county public works staff do more than just come out and look at the situation.
Cheryl Orchard said the flooding and mudslides are so bad in her community that children can’t walk to school.
“I just wish that everyone would just take a day and drive through there, especially when the rains are really bad, and see what people have to live through in that area. It’s terrible,” she said, and it’s been going on for years. “We’re begging you. Quality of life is just shot in there.”
Julia Pawls said during rains or high tide, wood storks and other wildlife come out to eat the fish that are in the floodwaters.
“You guys have the power to do something about that,” she said. “We can’t even enjoy the property we bought in Pasco County.”
The lugnuts on her vehicle have rusted, she said, and the dealer told her it’s from salt water that she has to drive through.
John Love pointed out that the county is paying for water main projects and other work in wealthier areas.
“We live, literally, underwater. It’s not necessarily a flooding problem; it’s a drainage problem,” he said. And when vehicles hit potholes covered with water that stays long after a rainstorm, they often are damaged.
County Commissioner Jack Mariano responded that the county’s public works people are doing a good job, and commended Michael J. Carballa, Assistant County Administrator for Public Infrastructure, and his team.
“When I first started 16 years ago, we had people who were flooding all over the place,” he said. “Today, we just passed this morning at 9 o’clock MSBUs for places like Magnolia Valley, Timber Oaks, places like Ashwood, a small little street.”
A big problem, Mariano said, is that some parts of the county are “low,” don’t drain well and that being below sea level results in water pooling in some areas. He said he didn’t care if a road was public or private, but that people should not have to live in flooded areas.
The trouble also is one of jurisdiction in cases of clogged pipes, he added. In Love’s neighborhood, that’s the case. “We have to work with the city on this one because they own stuff that connects with ours. Up along U.S. 19, you see so many white signs with green lettering, which means it’s not county maintained. The roads are always the worst.”
Mariano encouraged residents to talk to the city of New Port Richey, too, and encourage the city to work with the county.
“We need to have a joint meeting with New Port Richey,” he said. “I need to elevate this issue.”
In other action, the County Commission:
Congratulated Doreen Packard on her retirement and commended her for 31 years of service to Pasco County.
Commended the Moffitt Cancer Center and recognized Aug. 1 as World Lung Cancer Day.
Congratulated Michele Crary on her retirement and thanked her for 16 years of service to the county.
Expressed appreciation to Katie McCormick, deputy clerk for the office of the clerk and comptroller, for 18 years of outstanding service.
Denied a request for an application to “engage in the occupation of fortune teller.”
Congratulated Senior Assistant County Attorney Jane Fagan on her departure from the county to move closer to her family.
Welcomed Justin Roessler as the county’s new Solid Waste Director.
Voted 5-0 to continue to Sept. 15 a measure to establish special assessment liens for recently completed PVAS projects. Some homeowners complained that the new roads are breaking down, and a couple of people said they were not informed that they would have to pay for paving since it’s not the way things are done in other Florida counties or other states. Some residents sought a reduction in the interest rate on their assessment.