Heavy rains pelt parts of county
By JAMIE JONES, Times Staff Writer
More than 14 inches of rain fell on parts of Hernando County this weekend, with the heaviest showers soaking the county's west side along the Gulf of Mexico, according to forecasters. More thunderstorms are expected this week.
Despite heavy rains, sinkholes across Spring Hill remained mostly stable, except for several smaller holes collapsing into one near Spring Hill Drive, said Mark Tobert, a county Emergency Management specialist.
National Weather Service radars showed 14.3 inches of rain falling from Saturday to Monday in some areas, said forecaster Richard Rude of the National Weather Service. He said he could not break down the locations with the heaviest rainfall, but most appeared to occur near the gulf.
Forecasters said Brooksville did not receive as much rain, with a total of 3.18 inches falling from Saturday to Monday.
Brooksville has received more rain this year than during the same period last year. From June 2001 to June 2002, 47.55 inches fell in the Brooksville area. A year earlier, 42.84 inches had fallen, according to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, which measures rainfall north of Brooksville.
Tobert said he spent part of his weekend responding to six calls from residents concerned about sinkholes near their homes, but none appeared to be the real thing.
He said the most notable change occurred at a county drainage retention area at Amidon Street and Bentley Avenue north of Spring Hill Drive. There, three small holes collapsed into one large hole.
"Everything else stayed the same," Tobert said.
He said several areas in the county had minor flooding, including a sign shop at 14486 Cortez Blvd., which had water on its doorstep after drainage canals overflowed. One resident on Grove Road west of Brooksville also reported minor flooding in his yard, Tobert said.
The Withlacoochee River rose over the weekend, and employees of Nobleton Canoe Rental said that renters who normally must drag their canoes across some sections of the river were able to float freely in the rain over the weekend.
However, the river was far from flooding its banks, they said.
Steve Whitaker of the county Public Works Department said the county wants to start putting temporary filler in sinkholes discovered in three county drainage areas in Spring Hill. He said their work will begin shortly after the Southwest Florida Water Management District looks over the plans.
At first, clean sand will be packed into the holes, Whitaker said.
The county currently is trying to decide on a more comprehensive fix, considering whether to pump grout into the underground voids or possibly drill into the earth and fill it with hard rock.
Anyone with questions about sinkholes can call 754-4083.
-- Jamie Jones can be reached at 754-6114. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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