BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
Power is restored for all but six homes at Great Cypress Village Mobile Home Park in Hudson, but it could take months before the park dries out.
HUDSON - Barbara Reid had to start somewhere.
Her home had gone for three weeks without electricity. Mold spread on her refrigerator shelves. Mildew sprouted from her carpet, her floors dampened by the floodwaters creeping under her raised mobile home.
So she started spraying, scrubbing and steam-cleaning Thursday, and did the same for her parents' place a few doors down. She had to make their vacated homes livable again, even if she couldn't make the floodwaters drain from their marshy yards at the Great Cypress Village Mobile Home Park.
"We don't have it as bad as some people do; I know that," said Reid, 57, looking at the overflowing lake behind her home on Camille Street, just south of Houston Avenue. "It's just a shame this happened to an elderly community."
Reid's corner of the 150-home park is slowly coming back to life, now that electricity has returned to 41 of the 47 homes that lost power Aug. 27.
Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative shut off the power after floodwaters from this summer's heavy rains covered about 10 underground transformers, spokesman Ernie Holzhauer said. As the water receded, the company restored power to 21 homes on Sept. 12, and 20 more on Tuesday, he said.
Now it's cleanup time for the residents, many of whom stayed with relatives, friends or at a motel while the power was out.
"I need lots of air fresheners," Reid said with a smile. "I think I'll buy them by the case."
Even with the power on, it could take months for the community to dry out.
The water at Cypress Village has dropped about 6 inches in the past two weeks, county Emergency Management director Michele Baker said.
The county has been pumping about 2.3-million gallons a day from the flooded area on nearby Houston Avenue - but there could be up to 360-million gallons of standing water in and around the mobile home park, Baker said.
In a worst-case scenario, she said, it could take up to five months and $210,000 to pump the water away.
"It's going to take a long time," Baker said. "We're going to keep pumping, but this is not going to be an overnight solution."
In the meantime, six homeowners on Camille Street and Andre Boulevard still lack power. Their transformer remains under water.
Jim and Shirley Burel stopped by their house Thursday, flipped a switch, and realized they were one of the unlucky six.
"It's very depressing. We have such a lovely home, and we can't use it," said Mrs. Burel, 65, who has been staying at a friend's house with her husband.
"We're just checking it every day, and hopefully one day we'll have power."
Longtime residents say the park has never flooded like this before. Even so, Holzhauer said, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative will consider moving its equipment to higher ground.
"Once the water recedes, we are going to take a look at our facilities and see if anything can be done to prevent further interruptions," Holzhauer said.
The western edge of the park remains under several feet of water. Plywood boards form a makeshift sidewalk around the flooded patch of Camille Street. Chuck DeLair built a boardwalk through his yard last week so his neighbors could get to the clubhouse without trudging through water.
"It was nothing but mud and water back there," said DeLair, 80.
And yet for those who can forget about the flood problems for a minute, the overflowing lake behind Camille Street is a serene slice of nature dotted with herons and bass.
"Even though it's flooded," a weary Mr. Burel said, "I love the view."
- Bridget Hall Grumet can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org