OZELLO, Fla. (WFLA) – Afton Chenoweth wasn’t worried about Hurricane Idalia at first. A resident of 32 years, he rode out the storm in his historic home built in the 1960s. For him, Idalia proved to be a life-changing storm.
“It got to the point it was coming in almost an inch an hour,” he said.
The storm surge reached 9 feet in his yard, which sits on six acres in the small community west of U.S. 19.
“I’ve been out here my whole life. I grew up right here my whole life. I’ve never seen a storm, no name, Catherine, I’ve never seen a storm come in that fast,” he said.
The community is banding together to help one another. Jammie Nash used his personal equipment to begin clearing Ozello trail so that his neighbors could get back to their homes.
“I staged some equipment at the start of Ozello Trail before the storm hit so I could be the first one in and get the road cleared for our residents to get back in,” he said. “We will rebuild. I want to express that. You know, yes this is a big speed bump, but it’s just a bump in the road. We will rebuild. And we’ll be strong as ever.”
Now, residents are hoping they will get the help they need.
“Ozello gets overlooked a lot. It’s a real small, tight knit community. But if you’re here, you’re family. But once you cross 19, most people don’t know this exists like it does.”