Secret Santas help Tampa Bay woman still dealing with hurricane-damaged home 3 years after Irma

8 On Your Side

TAMPA (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side is getting results for a Tampa Bay woman living in a mobile home damaged by Hurricane Irma. Last week, we showed the mess she’s been dealing with since 2017. After our story aired, viewers reached out to help and now Kathleen Imhoff will be receiving a new mobile home.

Hurricane Irma battered the Tampa Bay area in 2017. Imhoff, a Citrus County resident, says the roof of her mobile home was ripped off. To date, there’s still damage to her ceiling, walls and floors

“Some mold here,” said Imhoff. “Then you got a leak there, leak there, leak there.”

First, Imhoff turned to the feds. In total, she says she received approximately $11,000.

After the FEMA money ran out, Imhoff turned to Rebuild Florida – a program that uses federal dollars to rebuild or replace homes destroyed by the storm.

“I applied for this back in April,” said Imhoff.

In October, the 58 year-old got approval to get more help but then hit delays, she didn’t understand.

“It’s been very trying, I’ve come to the end of my rope a few times,” said Imhoff.

8 On Your Side discovered, for less than $400, Imhoff would qualify for a new home.

Imhoff has to pay back that money because she had previously received benefits from FEMA and can’t receive benefits twice.

After our story ran, 8 On Your Side viewers wanted to help anonymously.

“They’ve offered to pay the full amount, so you can have a new mobile home,” said Investigator Mahsa Saeidi.

“I really really want to say thank you, I don’t know who you are but I really appreciate it,” said Imhoff.

The secret Santa’s are sending a check to The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Imhoff, who suffers from asthma, says her life won’t be the same.

“I’ll be able to cook properly, without having to use hotplates…being able to breathe normally.”

If Hurricane Irma damaged your home, help is out there.

Rebuild Florida Housing and Replacement Program offers funding to those whose homes were damaged during the storm. However, money is limited. Priority is given to low-income residents who are most vulnerable, including the elderly.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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