THE ISSUE: Record rainfall leads to county’s flooding.
OUR OPINION: Government agencies need to step up.
Everyone is likely familiar with the decades old nursey rhyme, “It’s raining, it’s pouring. The old man is snoring.” The “old man” in this case are the government agencies who’ve left folks mired in flood waters.
We cognizant these are historical numbers not seen in 70-plus years. With 63 inches of rain this summer, Citrus County broke a record set in 1945. "We're now the wettest all-time for the summer months," said Mark Fulkerson, senior engineer with the Water District, noting the average annual rainfall is 66 inches.
As problems slowly began risen, the county could have been proactive, establishing self-serve sand bag locations throughout impacted areas countywide.
As DRAs fill and the water table rises, flooding and standing water have become a significant issues throughout the county. However, officials with both the county and Southwest Florida Water Management District have told residents there’s little to nothing they can do to counter the deluge, leading to rising frustrations and tensions of impacted residents.
That’s not what exactly what residents want to hear when their homes are being inundated with flood waters from taxpayer-funded entities. Despite numerous complaints from residents, the county’s solution was to open a pair of self-serve sandbag locations — well after floodwaters had risen. The reactive measure was akin to sticking a finger in the dike after it had already sprung a leak.
While there is no short-term solution on the horizon, it could be years before a long-term fix is approved either. The Water District and Citrus County’ are conducting watershed studies in several areas throughout the county, including a portion of Westwood Acres, which should be completed within the next year, said district spokeswoman Susanna Martinez Tarokh said. Another part of the neighborhood is included in a study that is beginning in 2022 and will take several years to complete, Tarokh said.
“If a viable solution comes from these studies, the county could apply the District’s Cooperative Funding Initiative program for potential funding,” Tarokh said.
Residents don’t have viable answers or a plan either. Let’s not forget, there are five weeks remaining in the rainy season. We cannot blame government officials for burying their heads in the sand, only because the ground is flooded.
The county and the water district cannot ignore the citizens and the problem. To provide answers or assistance for affected residents, officials need to explore every avenue.
That means they need to be on the phone with state lawmakers, Florida Emergency Management, the governor, the Army Corps of Engineers or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
If government works for the citizens, then it’s time to get to work on answers or a viable short-term solution.