Madeira Beach residents displaced from Eta storm damage crying out for FEMA help

Pinellas County

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Many Madeira Beach residents say they’re struggling and having to move out because of damage left behind by Tropical Storm Eta. Families tell us they feel forgotten and are crying out for help, but the city says they need something from the homeowners before they can get FEMA help.

“It’s a lot. You have to move out, find a place to live, find a new car,” Madeira Beach resident Mary Snyders told 8 On Your Side Friday.

The sound of fans running was non-stop on Friday at Mary and Joe Snyders’ home. Flooring, furniture and baseboards that once lined the inside of their house are now sitting on the curb, ready to be taken away as trash.

“The water rose up through the floors, it soaked everything underneath and all the subflooring,” Mary Snyders said.

For a week now, they’ve traded in the “Salt Life” and sandals for boots, gloves and tarps because of flooding.

“It’s in the walls, you just can’t see it. We have to cut all the walls down at least 2 feet,” Snyders said.

The couple said their community feels forgotten and needs FEMA’s help.

Some neighbors told us Charlie Crist’s office was working to get FEMA to come down and help. 8 On Your Side Pinellas County Bureau Reporter Christine McLarty called Friday to find out how that was going.

Hours later, Crist’s office sent a letter to the governor asking for him to request FEMA’s assistance for multiple beach towns in Pinellas County.

8 On Your Side also went to the City of Madeira Beach to find out what they are doing to help.

“It’s a big project, isn’t it? There was a lot of flooding and I’m really glad you’re paying attention to it,” Madeira Beach Community Development Director Linda Portal said.

Portal told us it’s a heartbreaking situation and, while they know at least 300 homes in Madeira Beach are damaged, they only have reports from 50 homes. In order to get FEMA to help, she said more damage needs to be reported.

The Snyders’ said they have reported.

“We’re just completely overwhelmed…people just need help,” they said.

The city says PODS are usually only allowed at a house for a couple of days but they’ve extended it to three months while the restoration is underway in the community.

The city wants to remind residents that all construction, even restoration, must be permitted. You can check online to see if your contractor is licensed.

City of Madeira Beach officials told us they have waived fees for restoration work and are expediting review and permitting in order to get people back in their homes. You can call (727) 399-9951 immediately for direction and advice before beginning building or repairs. The city said you can just ask for permitting or restoration help and they will put you through to someone who can help. You can also email planning@madeirabeachfl.gov with questions and for information about insurance, flood resilience and your property and restoration values.

Anyone with storm damage is asked to report it to the city and county.

A city spokesman said FEMA offers $30,000 in grant funds – increased cost of compliance (ICC) grants – to help those with flood damage avoid future flooding by raising their home, demolishing it to replace with a raised structure or moving the home out of the floodplain. A city spokesman said the FEMA ICC grant application form for your adjuster can be found online.

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