MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Hurricane Idalia swept through the Tampa Bay area nearly one month ago. Residents in the Rubonia community saw significant damage from rising waters as a result of the storm. The community sits just north of the McMullen Creek.
Longtime residents say they are used to seeing flooding in their community, but Idalia caused devastating damages for some in older, low-lying homes.
88-year-old Beatrice Hall has lived in Rubonia for 59 years. Her home saw extensive water intrusion last month, which resulted in mold throughout her home.
“It’s been hard, but I have been trying to make it by the help of the good master. I’m trying to make it. I can’t do a lot, I can’t do what I used to do,” said Hall.
Faith and other community leaders spoke at the local community center Monday afternoon, bringing attention to the ongoing recovery in Rubonia.
“It has been four weeks. That is a lot of time that these citizens have been in their homes, that have been in mold, in unlivable conditions. When you are talking about underlying conditions, I think that is a disservice, and it is not fair. It is not equitable,” said Tarnisha Cliatt with the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce.
“Long after the camera ops are done, these people are still there. These people are still suffering. Houses, mold, and everything else that they treasure are being affected by this lack of response,” said Bishop Manuel Sykes.
In a statement to 8 On Your Side, Manatee County officials said, “Manatee County has – and will continue to – respond to the needs of the Rubonia Community. The response to Hurricane Idalia shows that we were able to jump right into action.”
The county says county staff and elected officials were on the ground in Rubonia to survey the damage the morning after the storm.
“The community was asked multiple times to make sure that they were registering for the assistance via Crisis Cleanup and a local vendor was secured to provide appliances for those who asked for the replacement of their lost appliances. The timeline was always made clear that it would not be as immediate…but continued efforts to coordinate and document everything,” said the county in an emailed statement.
FEMA has been on site in Rubonia since Saturday, Sept. 23. A spokesperson told us they rely on the county and state when it comes to where to put recovery centers. FEMA encourages anyone with damage to come to the Rubonia Community Center to see if they’re eligible for assistance. The site will be open for the next few weeks from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Community leaders who spoke out about the recovery in Rubonia Monday said they’re working to find contractors and others who are willing to pitch in and help the elderly folks in Rubonia rebuild their homes in the coming weeks. Anyone interested can contact the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce or the Manatee County NAACP.