With Hurricane Idalia in the rearview mirror, the mandatory evacuation orders that were put in place by the Hernando County Government and Emergency Management Officials have been lifted. Effective on Thursday, August 31, the orders have been lifted for evacuation zones A, B, and C, coastal areas, low-lying areas, as well as manufactured homes county-wide. Residents are still urged to exercise caution when returning to their properties, however.
While Damage Assessment crews continue to evaluate the extent of the damage left behind, people like Erin Daly are setting out to do something about it. Her goal is to assemble a group of individuals who are looking to help clean up the damage in the wake of Hurricane Idalia. Working in tandem with the United Cajun Navy, a non-profit organization that responds to disasters, Daly plans to spend the next four days or more cleaning up Hernando County.
“As you get north of the boat ramp, the houses are older, lower to the ground, a lot of one-story houses that aren’t stilt houses because they were the original ones that were built first,” Daly said. “A lot of those suffered in Hurricane Hermine. A lot of those flooded out, and the same houses flooded out again, but even worse than Hermine this time.”
Having worked with the non-profit in the aftermath of a variety of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Ian, a Category 5 hurricane that barreled through Florida nearly a year ago, she hopes to lend her aid to affected communities. Those areas include Hernando Beach, Aripeka, Weeki Wachee, Pine Island, and Bayport. If her team can complete this task, then she does not rule out the possibility of helping neighboring Citrus County if time and resources allow.
Daly has seen the damage and flooding many times before and wants to help mitigate the damage by removing the water and wet debris from houses, as that is what causes delayed devastation. If the moisture is allowed to remain for too long, mold can become a major issue. Water also caused a different problem for a neighboring house to Daly’s on Hernando Beach, as it caught fire during the storm. Daly noticed a similar occurrence during her time providing disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy.
“What happened in Breezy Point, New York, with Hurricane Sandy, is they left the power on and hundreds [of] houses burned down,” Daly said. “So, in this storm, this house that burned down next door was on fire at nine o’clock in the morning, and the power was still on. There was water inside the houses. So, these houses had water intrusion with the electricity going.”
Over the coming days, the county and state will be working to recover from Idalia’s wrath with the help of non-profit organizations, both local and national. If you are unable to find time to physically lend aid to these causes, Daly urges people to support local groups like the United Cajun Navy, which has no paid employees, and “every dollar goes toward supplies for people that need it.” For all citizens whose time is available, Daly hopes to see them providing assistance to the community.
She will be coordinating the volunteer effort at the Coast Guard Auxiliary, 4340 Calienta St., Hernando Beach, FL 34607, Friday through the holiday weekend.