IRMA: Hernando, Pasco residents cast wary eye on Withlacoochee

By Tim Wronka and Trevor Pettiford, Reporters
Last Updated: Sunday, September 17, 2017, 1:34 PM EDT

One of the biggest concerns nearly a week after Hurricane Irma is flooding. That's especially true for residents in Hernando and Pasco counties.

  • Deputies went door-to-door Saturday, urging residents to leave
  • Flood levels expected to rise this week in Irma's aftermath
  • Officials don't expect river to crest until Thursday

On Sunday, Hernando County Emergency Management said the Withlacoochee River has reached major flood stage at the Trilby gauge. The river was at 16.79 feet and is expected to crest at 17.5 feet Wednesday.

Rescue personnel all over Hernando County have spent the weekend trying to get people away from flood-prone areas around the Withlacoochee River.

The Sheriff's Office used social media to spread the word, and deputies even went door-to-door telling people to get out.

In addition to issues at the Trilby gauge, flood levels at Croom are expected to rise to 10.8 feet by Monday morning and exceed that later in the week.

"We thought we could ride it through and it was going to go away," said resident Jonathan Crivello. "But apparently they are saying it's going to get worse."

Water is covering streets as high as many mailboxes, and neighbors are stunned how fast the water keeps coming.

Deputies are finding out that many people don't want to leave.

"I'm not leaving. That's just me," said resident Will Paine. "I don't want to leave and have someone steal. They've been stealing out front already."

Residents are being warned that authorities may be unable to get to them if the flooding gets worse.

Meanwhile further south in Pasco County, the same river is causing similar issues.

Water came rushing in Saturday, the result of opening up a dam further upstream on the Withlacoochee. It forced the river out of its banks and into some campgrounds where warnings went out earlier to evacuate.

Dawn Whorrell and her family were able to get their camper out of the rising water, along with other neighbors. But they're not sure where to go next.

"Right now, we had to pull out of here," said Shawn Wolford. "We have nowhere to go with our camper. We've called every RV in Pasco, Hernando. All of them are like, 'Well we don't accept kids because we're a 55-and-over park, and I think that's crazy."

Officials don't expect the river to crest until Thursday.