NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) — Al Shaw took every precaution to protect himself and his property from floodwaters as Hurricane Idalia approached.

He did not know he should have also thought about fire.

“If we had been here, we would have been sleeping right here,” he said, pointing to his bed in his fire-damaged bedroom.

Instead, Shaw and his wife evacuated and slept in a hotel in Tampa.

At 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, Shaw received a phone call from his neighbor, who saw smoke coming from his home.

“I was disheartened to get that call. I never expected to get that call that my house was on fire. Kudos to the fire department. Police department was here first. They were throwing buckets of water on it,” said Shaw.

Shaw said the fire started in a work room on the side of his house and spread into his bedroom.

“We lost a lot of stuff here but it could have been a lot worse. We could have been home and if i was home, I probably would have been trying to get stuff out and I probably would have ended up in the hospital myself from smoke inhalation because the smoke was really bad,” Shaw said.

Shaw, who just moved to Florida from New Hampshire three years ago, said he was unaware of the warning to turn the power off before evacuating.

He hopes his experience serves as a lesson for others.

Fire crews were still on scene hours later, entering and exiting the home in flood waters.

“In my opinion, they actually saved the house,” said Shaw.

Elsewhere in New Port Richey, the Cotee River had also flooded onto Rio Drive.

Neighbors in lower-lying properties started calling at 6 a.m., seeking refuge in higher-elevated homes.

Neighbors opened their doors.

“You can replace everything else but you can’t replace someone in the home. You can’t replace, the people I live next to have been my cheerleaders the last four years that I’ve lived here, so that’s extremely important,” said Larae Sams, who lives in New Port Richey.