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HomeAt Home & BeyondOfficials Provide a Hurricane Idalia Recap

Officials Provide a Hurricane Idalia Recap

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In a presentation featuring a video of an airboat being piloted down a flooded street, Emergency Management Director David DeCarlo recapped the County’s preparation for Hurricane Idalia, which began on August 26th. Recovery efforts are currently ongoing in affected areas in Aripeka, Hernando Beach, and Weeki Wachee.

Areas west of Highway 19 were inundated by a 6-7 foot storm surge, resulting in the flooding of homes and businesses, and two residential structure fires were reported. DeCarlo reported that multiple civilians required rescue assistance during the storm. The eye of Idalia was reportedly 80 miles offshore of the county.

DeCarlo, together with Commissioners, recounted their participation days before the expected landfall and praised the School Board, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative (WREC), and other officials and staff for their responses, which ultimately led to the successful management of the situation.

336 human residents were sheltered between several area schools, and 85 pets were brought to Parrott Middle. The mandatory evacuation order was issued on Tuesday, August 29th, for those in flood zones A-C and those in manufactured and mobile homes. 76 National Guardsmen were staged before the expected landfall with specialized high-water vehicles to assist in the emergency response. Officials report that power was shut off from Bayport and Pine Island to Aripeka while emergency officials monitored the storm surge.

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However, as the Hernando Sun reported last week, the house fire on Hernando Beach was one circumstance where power was not shut off before flooding inundated the area, which likely initiated an electrical fire and the destruction of the home. It is highly recommended that homeowners shut off power to their homes at the breaker prior to evacuation when flooding is a risk.

Post-storm, members of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Administration) and Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) personnel responded within 12 hours. The agencies reported that 181 residences were affected, 1 was destroyed, 116 sustained major damage, and 65 suffered minor damage. The total number of homes impacted was 363.

This rapid post-storm assessment is a new program that was instituted following Hurricane Ian. As of 9:00 a.m. on Monday, September 11, FEMA had knocked on 1,456 doors, making contact with 186 people to assist in applying for assistance. Registrations also took place in other locations, with a reported 798 people applying for assistance.

A Disaster Recovery Center will be stationed at the Spring Hill Library once official documents are signed. There was no opening date reported at this meeting. The Weeki Wachee Area Club opened a Family Resource Center, which will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Saturday, September 16th. The center is offering supplies, buckets, shovels, and cleaning equipment. The center will also offer individual FEMA registration, hot meals, and a food pantry. On Thursday, September 14th, the American Red Cross will begin its assessments. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering loans to businesses and individuals. Affected residents can register for assistance online at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362. FEMA also offers a smartphone app in both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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