Gov. Rick Scott praised Pasco County officials and first responders Friday after touring the areas hardest hit by Tropical Storm Debby and said he would seek federal disaster relief for the recovery.
"There was great coordination locally with state agencies, and FEMA was here from day one," Scott said.
If there was one incident that drove home the scope of the disaster, it was Fire Chief Anthony Lopinto's description of firefighters standing in knee-deep water and trying to fight a house fire and avoid alligators.
"I don't know about you, but I don't like being in the water with alligators," Scott said.
Local, state and federal officials began compiling official damage estimates on Friday. Those losses will be considered, along with the overall county population, to determine if the county qualifies for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"It can be problematic, occasionally, if you have an event that's highly localized," Florida Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon said. "It's not going to be a problem in this case. This was a statewide event."
Pasco Emergency Management Director Annette Doying said that 28 government-owned facilities sustained an estimated $4 million in damages from the storm. At least 53 single family homes were damaged, not including mobile homes.
"I suspect we will have lost entire communities," she said. The entourage toured the Seven Springs Travel Park, which was flooded Monday and Tuesday after the Anclote River overflowed its banks. Scott also popped in on some diners at the Susie's Too café and drove through the Elfers Parkway neighborhood, which was still too wet to tour by foot.
"This happened Sunday, and to have this much standing water five days later merely hints at what it was like early in the week," Koon said. "We're going to work aggressively to help the residents of Pasco County recover from this event."