CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. (WFLA) — Despite other members of his family donning rain boots, Scott McMurdo kept his HEYDUDE shoes on as he waded through the water and stepped through the silt that now covers parts of his five homes in Ozello.
The small, tight-knit neighborhood in Crystal River sits right on the water. Driving through the tree-lined streets, it’s easy to see why someone would move here. But Ozello was one of the first areas to see Hurricane Idalia’s powerful storm surge sweep through homes.
“It’s like your own little slice of heaven,” McMurdo gushed about his community. “And you’re trying to keep it.”
But even heaven floods.
As he stepped into one of his homes, his shoes squeegeed mud and water out from a rug.
“It’s tough,” McMurdo said. “It really is tough looking at this. It’s almost like, where do I start?”
He said he bought the homes for his family, a gift to leave behind.
“The whole idea was that I bought these, and I bought them almost for like, a legacy, so that my grandchildren could have it,” McMurdo explained. “My daughters grew up here, my mother-in-law’s been here for 40 years, I’ve been coming down for 25.”
As he evacuated during Idalia, he said he knew the storm and the havoc it wreaked were the price he paid for being able to wear his comfortable shoes and live the life he wanted.
“First thought I thought was, ‘I’ve spent years of my life doing this and I thought, why did I do this?'” McMurdo asked himself. “I walked around the corner and I saw my granddaughters’ swing and I thought, ‘That’s why.'”
He inspected parts of his homes as he walked around. The above-ground pool he bought a month ago for his granddaughters was destroyed, and branches and limbs collected along a wire fence.
“Fortunately, all my tools I got up,” said McMurdo of his shed. “But it’s just gone.”
He said he didn’t buy flood insurance because it was too expensive, so he and his family have a lot of work to do over the next weeks and months.
“We’ll pull everything out and get dehumidifiers in here,” McMurdo said. “We’ll start the generator and, I hate to say it, we’ll start rebuilding.”