Hurricane Irma victims living with no AC while waiting for state to replace home

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Years after Hurricane Irma struck the Tampa Bay area, one elderly couple is still waiting on aid from the state. To make matters worse, they’ve now gone months without air conditioning in their mobile home in DeSoto County.

From the crumbling walls to the cracks in the ceiling, Hurricane Irma’s damage is still visible inside the home.

David Myers and Terri Lawson turned to Rebuild Florida in 2019. It’s a state program that can replace storm-damaged homes.

Florida determined the couple qualifies to get a new house, but 91-year-old Myers says the pace of aid has been painfully slow.

“The whole situation is a wait situation. You don’t know when, how or what’s going to happen,” he said. “And all this time, everything is deteriorating worse.”

Lawson, Myers’ partner, described a scary incident after a recent rain storm.

“I’m sitting at the dining room table and all of a sudden, I saw sparks go flying,” she said.

It appears rain got into an electrical outlet and caused sparks.

On top of that, Lawson says the air conditioning has been out since December.

“I have a lot of allergies which the fans in the house are bringing in. More pollen, it makes it hard to breathe,” she explained.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Director Dane Eagle oversee Rebuild Florida. While the DEO has recently released millions to help stormproof cities and counties, people living in storm-damaged homes right now still wait.

After not getting results from the state, 8 On Your side is turning to lawmakers who represent Myer and Lawson’s district for assistance.

The couple that’s in dire need of help just got some good news.

“After I spoke with you this morning, we got a call that they have assigned a contractor and gave me the name and phone number,” Lawson said.

8 On Your Side is working with Florida Representative Melony Bell’s office on this problem. Rep. Bell’s office is reaching out to Rebuild Florida to help speed up this process for Myer and Lawson.

8 On Your Side has also reached out to the contractor and will keep you updated.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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