Recovery along the Withlacoochee River after Hurricane Irma

Dr. Mark Fulkerson Senior Professional Engineer  Southwest Florida Water Management District

It’s been more than two months since Hurricane Irma cut a path through the heart of Florida, bringing damaging winds and relentless rains to many of our communities. Coming off a dry and dangerous wildfire season earlier in 2017, the summer rains were a welcome relief to some. But when Hurricane Irma hit an already saturated region, many residents living along the 160-mile Withlacoochee River worried about their safety and property.


by Louise Brown

Mother Nature recently woke up on the wrong side of her bed. She didn’t realize that there would be loss of life, homes, prize possessions, devastation to many areas of Florida.

The very young don’t remember that we have been through this before, all the adults remember it all too well.

We mourn our loved ones and regain our strength and move on, Florida will rebuild.

Slowly the lights are on, thanks to the electric company and all the companies from other states that have come to help.

Clean-up for schools used as shelters during Irma

After six of the district schools functioned as shelters during Hurricane Irma, there was a considerable amount of cleanup and sanitation needed before students returned. The school district used EE & G Environmental Services, Simpson Environmental Services and Pure Air Controls, Inc to perform the needed services.

Dr. Romano, Superintendent of Schools, followed Emergency Procurement Procedures in hiring the companies, enabling her to suspend the competitive bid process.

USGS evaluates Withlacoochee high water marks

USGS Hydrologist Andy Knaak hammers a nail into a post to mark the seed line on flooded Cyril Drive in Ridge Manor.

Eight USGS field crews traveled around the Jacksonville, Tampa and Fort Myers areas last week looking for evidence that tell scientists how high the flood waters and storm surge from Hurricane Irma reached. A crew was able to make it to Hernando County to evaluate the Withlacoochee River. Andy Knaak, USGS hydrologist worked his way down river from Trilby, stopping in Ridge Manor at Cyril Drive and Highway 50. (The Withlacoochee runs north.) On that day, the river had already receded a couple feet from the high water mark.

Hurricane Irma Support for the Florida Keys


Wider Horizon School students and girls from Girl Scout Troop 4421 bringing donations

A local student and his family are joining forces with the Rotary Club in Key West to help the families affected by Hurricane Irma.

Donation items will be collected at Wider Horizons School today through tomorrow morning Wednesday September 27th.  

Wider Horizons School is located at 4060 Castle Ave. in Spring Hill.

The Hatfield family has acquired a Uhaul truck to personally deliver all the items to Key West.

Any support that you can offer to these families in need would be greatly appreciated.

Stranded manatee rescued near Pine Island

Shamrock the manatee rescued near Pine Island photo by Deb Brown

Four days after Hurricane Irma caused floods and power outages, The Hernando Sun spoke to Andy Garrett, Manatee Rescue Coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

On St. Patrick’s Day, last year, a female manatee with a watercraft injury and her two-year old calf were rescued in Tarpon Springs. Both were taken to Lowry Park Zoo, so the injured mom could be treated for her injuries. After her recovery, both were microchipped, then Shamrock and her calf, Emerald were released together into the open water.

County Disaster Assistance Center opens to help residents register with FEMA

Hernando Co. Gov.

(Brooksville, FL) Hernando County will open a "County Disaster Assistance Center" (CDAC) starting Tuesday, September 26, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and remain open daily through Friday, September 29, 2017. The Center will be staffed by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel and will be located at The Mining Association Enrichment Center at 800 John Gary Grubbs Boulevard in Brooksville. No appointment needed.

Disaster Declaration Timeline

Irma Disaster Declaration map

On Sept. 13, 2017 Hernando County along with a number of other counties was declared a disaster area. The disaster declaration has to be made by the Governor of the state affected.

The disaster designation is important because it allows Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to become more involved in the recovery efforts. The resources that can be made available are designated for the removal of debris, funding assistance for emergency services, possibly housing assistance, and more. A disaster declaration is also a necessary step to filing loss claims with FEMA.