Madeira Beach family homeless on Thanksgiving after Tropical Storm Eta

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MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – A Madeira Beach family said Tropical Storm ETA stole their home from them just two weeks before Thanksgiving. While the family has lost a lot, they say they still have a lot to be thankful for.

Pinellas County Bureau Reporter Christine McLarty went to their house Thanksgiving morning where the family had planned to cook their feast, but mother nature had a different plan.”

“This is Chloe, my 7-year-old. Brooke, 4 years old, and my wife Regina,’ said Eric Cabrera introducing us to his family.

Cabrera said Eta destroyed their walls, furniture, clothes, and Chloe and Brooke’s toys.

“We’re sitting here on the couch and the kids are on the bed when the electricity goes out. They’re screaming, I’m yelling ‘don’t touch the floor, you’ll get electrocuted!’ It was just a nightmare all night long,” said Cabrera recalling the storm.

Chloe said the past couple of weeks have been hard. Unable to live in their home, the family of 4 has been staying with friends and neighbors.

“There’s so much stuff to fit in every house and we only get a few days in each house,” Chole said.

Cabrera said the most stressful part is the unanswered questions.

“Is FEMA going to help? How long are we going to be put out of our house? Where are we going to live for the next 6-8 months or a year? We don’t know,” Cabrera said. “And that’s what causes the stress. It seems like no one knows what’s going on in Madeira Beach.”

Congressman Charlie Crist sent a letter almost a week ago asking Governor Ron DeSantis to request additional help from FEMA. But it could be weeks before anyone arrives.

“FEMA needs to help and if the governor requests it they should deliver,” Crist said. “It’s pretty obvious what happened here, it’s the real deal. Why drag our feet? I hope they accelerate that time frame. It would be the right thing to do. It is Thanksgiving after all.”

The Cabrera family is trying to focus on what they do have this holiday season.

“I’m thankful for my family!” Chloe said.

Her dad continued, “Oh, of course, you’re thankful for your health your family. We’re all okay. Thankful for that. Being alive. And for good friends are taking care of us and have really stepped up to help us out.”

8 On Your Side spoke with the State Division of Emergency Management who said they’re assessing how much damage is in the area and if there is enough they’ll send FEMA with more resources in the coming weeks.

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