Volunteers Desperately Needed as “Operation Gut and Dump” Gets Underway
HERNANDO – Much of Florida’s Gulf Coast suffered varying degrees of damage as a result of Hurricane Hermine. Storm surge combined with high tides caused waters to rise 6 to 12 feet above normal near where the eye of the storm made landfall. Hernando County fared pretty well but there are still homes along the coast that had upwards of 18” of water surge through, destroying everything in its path.
For many coastal residents in Hernando County, Labor Day has taken on a literal meaning as homeowners work to pull appliances, furniture, and anything else that fell below the water line during the storm.
RNRF toured the damage in Hernando Beach yesterday, where residents were busy ripping out walls and preparing to rebuild.
John Antony and his wife allowed us to tour their home on Minnow Creek Drive, one of the hardest hit areas in Hernando Beach. Antony says they didn’t prepare for this storm but they did make some long-term preparations that will help make rebuilding much easier.
Instead of having walls made of standard sheetrock, Antony say they used pressure treated wainscoting and built in furniture that could be washed, and bleached to prevent mold growth.
Antony estimates damages to be in the area of $7,000 dollars, which he says is how much flood insurance would cost him every year.
There is a silver lining to those who are spending this holiday squeegeeing pungent salt water from their homes, and it comes in the form of acts of kindness from those with big hearts.
Erin Daly usually spends her days putting criminals behind bars as an Assistant State Attorney, but when Hurricane Hermine exited Florida, Daly and several volunteers set up camp at the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to hand out basic essentials, and do their part in putting the lives of those affected by storm back together.
“Operation Hernando Beach Gut and Dump” is what Daly labeled the effort to help resident get their homes back in order. Daly helped residents in Breezy Point, New York, in what was labeled “Gut and Pump,” after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast coastline in 2012.
“We have people assessing the needs, hauling off debris, delivering brooms, bleach, gloves and other items provided by the Red Cross,” says Daly.
Daly hopes to stay out as long as she can but additional volunteers, skilled or not, are desperately needed to continue the efforts.
County Commissioner Diane Rowden and husband Jay were busy delivering goods to families along the coast. Rowden says “We’re out here helping our neighbors and thanks to the strength of our community we will continue to be out here.” Rowden thanked County Administrator Len Sossamon and others on the board for initiating a plan to implement curbside pickup.
Rowden says damage estimates have already reached well-over $7 million dollars which qualifies the county for assistance through FEMA.
Florida Representative Blaise Ingoglia helped out with dozens of volunteers today and says “It warms my heart to see the community pulling together to help their neighbors. Erin Daly, Sandra Day, Tracie Mahler and the Central High School ROTC have done an amazing job and should be commended for all their hard work.”
Attorney Sandra Holliday Day has set up a drop off location at My career Closet for furniture and household items. They are located at 17008 Ayers Road in Brooksville and are available for drop offs from Monday, 3:00-7:00pm, through Wednesday, 10:00-noon. They can be reached at 352-277-5298.
Volunteers can report to 4340 Calienta Street in Hernando Beach to assist with the cleanup.
Most residents we spoke to seemed to be in high spirits, despite the catastrophe. “It’s just something we have to keep in the back of our mind when we decided to live on the water,” one resident told us.
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