Gov. Scott Considering Federal Aid for State

Rick Scott was briefed on Tropical Storm Debby's impact on Pasco and toured damaged areas.

Just before taking a brief tour of areas damaged by Tropical Storm Debby-related flooding on the western side of Pasco County Friday, Gov. Rick Scott said authorities are tallying up the damage Debby did in communities across the state to determine if Florida qualifies for federal aid.

“We’re going to do everything we can to help each community across our state get back to work as quickly as possible,” he said to the press after a briefing at the Pasco emergency operations center, where Scott questioned officials about the impact of Debby.

He said the state is starting assessments with the federal government today, and he is looking at assistance programs available to the the state.

“Your heart goes out to these families,” Scott said of those impacted by the storm.

When asked by a reporter if the state is looking at federal assistance, Scott responded:

“If you guessed today, looking at the impact across the state, you’d say,  ‘Yes.”'

However, he said that will be determined through a damage assessment process that the state is working on, and the state will look at what percentage the state covers and what percentage the federal government covers.

"We'll see what we can do," he said.

Scott declared a State of Emergency in Florida earlier this week, and Pasco County officlasls also declared a local state of emergency. There are 20 teams assessing damage throughout the state, said Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The state will coordinate with FEMA to see if numbers match up. He said numbers should be finalized next week.

The county is coordinating its assessment efforts with cities like New Port Richey, said Annette Doying, emergency management director for Pasco. The county is moving from responding to the storm to recovering from it. 

So are residents.

“They’ll be recovering from it for months,” she said.

During a briefing  at the operations center, Scott was informed about the impact of the flood. 

There are 19 people in shelters still because their houses are uninhabitable, three of whom have special needs, Doying said. There are also two cats.

There are hundreds of homes inundated with flood water from “a few inches to a few feet,” she said. At least 53 single family homes received major damage, according to early county estimates. The Sweetbay at Rowan Road and State Road 54 was flooded two-thirds up the window and lost inventory, she said, and small businesses were impacted.

More than 7,000 residences and business in Pasco County have been impacted in Pasco County.  An evacuation was ordered in West Passco earlier this week  due to flooding between the Pithlachascotee and Anclote Rivers, and a voluntary evacuation was ordered at Harborview Mobile Home Park in New Port Richey. Both evacuations have been rescinded.

However, there are mobile home parks in Pasco that are sill evacuated, and there will be homes lost.

The county’s most recent estimate totals damage to public infrastructure was  $4 million. On Tuesday, it estimated that $1.5 million damage was done to businesses and residences, but that number is bound to rise.   

“We’re going to see many people that are underinsured, and they’re going to be looking to the government,”  Doying told Scott.

“And you know and I know that’s not going to be an easy thing to do,” she said.

The number of underinsured includes public employees, she said. She's one of them.

Scott later toured places impacted by the storm, including Seven Springs Travel Park, which was evacuated, and Susie’s Too in the 54 area, which closed for three days after its parking lot flooded. He got out of his car in those places.

He also went to Elfers, which is near the Anclote River. The water in the river is usually between 6 and 10 feet high. On Tuesday, it peaked at 27.4 feet. On Friday, it was at 20 feet.

A group of residents gathered at the corner of one street, but Scott did not get out of his vehicle.

“The scary part is this is the earliest we’ve ever had a “D” name for a tropical storm name,” he said during the press conference before the tour. “Hopefully we won’t have anything else this year.”

Folks are being urged to log their damage with the county at pascocountyfl.net to help with the damage assessment process. 

todd dellmore June 30, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Didnt even stop and get out of the car to talk to the people thats a shame bad politics in my book. At least I would of got out and walked the streets with them to here there voices and complants that is amazing.
Grace June 30, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Well the actions of Gov. Scott show the people what he really thinks about them. His slogan "Let's get to work," didn't mean Florida or Floridians, it just meant his political buddies to really do nothing much for the state and it's going on 2 years and still no jobs, and now with people suffering from major damages to their homes and businesses in Pasco (and other places) who could use FEMA or SBA assistance, they can't get it until the governor declares it a disaster area. I guess he just drove by and said well doesn't look that bad to me....What a shame! Alex Sink for governor next election!
Lynda July 02, 2012 at 06:13 PM
He is a one-term governor, and I use the term governor very loosely. In order to be effective in his office the first step is knowing what to do, which he does not as demonstrated many times since he took office. Lynda
Jeremy T. Simons, Esq. July 02, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Lynda, I love your comments across the board on patch.com articles. I knew it was bad news first when he shut down the high-speed rail upon being elected. I was convinced I was right when he said that he will ignore the opinion of the supreme court and deny working towards implementing obamacare (remember, he made all his money in the health care business). I was upset when he came to Pasco, stopped in at Susie II restuarant and apparently didn't even bother to say hello to the owner.
Lynda July 03, 2012 at 05:30 PM
The feds have already said if states refuse to administer Obamacare they will step in and take care of it themselves. More than likely, this will mean less federal assistance in other areas that Florida so desperately needs. Hopefully Scott will realize that Florida WILL need assistance to help people recover from TS Debby. Thanks, Jeremy for the comments.


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