Watch Video: No power and nowhere to stay as rural Florida starts recovering from Hurricane Idalia

No power and nowhere to stay as rural Florida starts recovering from Hurricane Idalia: 

Watch Video Here

HORSESHOE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — In the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, residents in tightly-knit communities in a Florida region find themselves grappling with the challenge of securing shelter as they contemplate the daunting task of rebuilding their lives. They are also facing the prospect of enduring weeks without electricity, as the storm's ferocious winds and surging waters wreaked havoc on entire power grids.

Idalia made landfall on Wednesday in Florida's sparsely populated Big Bend region, a place where fishing and paddling spots are linked by vast swamplands. As the days passed, the true extent of the disaster became increasingly clear. A power cooperative serving 28,000 customers issued a sobering warning that it might take up to two weeks to fully restore electricity. Emergency officials stepped in, promising the arrival of trailers over the weekend to provide housing in an area that was already grappling with a shortage of accommodations.

“We'll build back. We'll continue to fish and enjoy catching the redfish and trout and eating oysters and catching scallops and eating them,” remarked real estate agent Jimmy Butler, who resides in Horseshoe Beach, one of the hardest-hit areas.

Idalia came ashore near Keaton Beach with wind speeds of 125 mph (200 kph) and a formidable 6-foot (1.8-meter) storm surge. The swiftly moving storm then proceeded to cut through predominantly rural areas in inland Florida and southern Georgia.

While the hurricane wreaked havoc on an unspoiled slice of old Florida that had managed to avoid extensive coastal development, its trajectory and rapid pace spared the state's insurance industry from a potentially devastating financial blow. According to Jimmy Patronis, the elected Chief Financial Officer overseeing the state Office of Insurance Regulation, two days after Hurricane Ian struck southwest Florida last year around Fort Myers, the state reported more than 62,000 insurance claims. In the two days following Idalia, there have been approximately 3,000 claims, Patronis noted.

However, some of the older homes in the Big Bend region may have been passed down through generations, owned outright, and uninsured. Those who have lost everything may grapple with the decision of whether they can afford or deem it worthwhile to embark on the daunting task of rebuilding, a choice that could have a profound cultural impact beyond the financial realm.

“This is somebody’s way of life. This is the way somebody took care of their families and their families took care of them, and they’re hard-working people,” Patronis reflected. “Mother Nature’s going to wipe them off the map and they’re going to say, ‘You know what? Maybe this is a sign for us to cash out.’”

Theresa Rae Gay's neighborhood in St. Petersburg faced a mix of ocean water, freshwater, and sewage as the storm passed to the east. She lost many of her appliances and likely her furniture. While the costs are high, she sees it as an unfortunate but inevitable part of living in her neighborhood.

“Still worth it to live in this neighborhood and we’re still happy to be here,” Gay remarked.

As of Friday, more than 100,000 homes and businesses in Florida and Georgia remained without power, according to Despite temperatures remaining below normal, the high humidity has created sweltering late-summer days and nights, with no relief from air conditioners due to the power outage.

The Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative issued a caution to its 28,000 customers, advising them to prepare for a potentially lengthy period without power as crews grapple with the monumental task of repairing hundreds of snapped utility poles and thousands of reports of damage and downed lines. The utility is mobilizing additional personnel for repairs and deploying generators to provide temporary relief for restaurants and other businesses.

Post a Comment