SHORE ACRES, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s been nearly three months since Hurricane Idalia swept through the Tampa Bay area, leaving extensive damage—damage that Shore Acres residents are still dealing with on top of recent storms.
Three months ago, the neighborhood was under underwater.
“It looked apocalyptic, and I can drive around and maybe it looks like a normal neighborhood, but the reality is a lot of these homes are empty,” said Blanca Garcia.
The storm’s damage forced residents, including the Garcia family, to move out so they can renovate.
“When you saw me, we were just recovering whatever we could out of the house,” said Garcia.
Garcia said her family evacuated their home after rising floodwaters came inside the residence, causing extensive damage. They had to rip out the walls, replace appliances and repair electrical wires.
“It was really terrifying,” said Garcia. “I’m still having flood nightmares.”
The Garcias finally moved back into their home one week ago.
“We had those storms, and there was a tide surge, and the time came up all the way up here,” she said.
Now Garcia fears for the next storm and what it could bring.
“That’s sort of the reality, and I think for a lot of us here in Shore Acres this is our beautiful home, but also, I think we’re realizing these floods are getting worse,” said Garcia. “I think Idalia really impacted the infrastructure for our drainage systems even more than they already were.”
A spokesperson with the City of St. Petersburg sent 8 On Your Side this statement:
“Due to the widespread damage from the storm, FEMA’s decision to add Pinellas County on the Major Disaster Declaration list, along with 17 other Florida counties, significantly expanded recovery options to help homeowners through the FEMA Individual Assistance program. The City, in partnership with county, state and federal leaders, also successfully advocated for an extension of the FEMA deadline to November 29th for uninsured losses caused by Hurricane Idalia. Additionally, our City teams have been regularly participating in events hosted by the neighborhood associations to help guide residents through FEMA grant programs.
The City of St. Petersburg is committed to expediting the rebuilding and recovery by accelerating the permitting process with the hope of helping affected individuals return to their homes as soon as possible. While major repair work is underway, the City also expanded neighborhood emergency housing options and authorized the on-site use of recreational vehicles and travel trailers on residential lots. For six months, St. Petersburg Code Enforcement will suspend issuing fines, citations and penalties.
We are committed to assisting our neighborhoods through this difficult recovery period and continue to advocate for additional federal assistance. In fact, Mayor Kenneth T. Welch just met with FEMA leadership in Washington, D.C., including the Intergovernmental Affairs and Hazard Mitigation teams, to seek additional help, ground response and infrastructure investments to mitigate future disasters.”