Pinellas County families displaced from Eta still waiting for help, state said resources are on the way

Pinellas County

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Families who are still cleaning up the damage from Tropical Storm Eta in Pinellas County say they need help now.

Many are calling it the ‘Invisible Storm’ because although the outside of many homes appears to be fine, the damage is still lurking inside.

“We have to rip up all the flooring, subflooring, and pull all this up so we can see the undercarriage,” said Mary Snyders.

She and her husband Joe haven’t been able to live in their Madeira Beach home for a month.

“It’s just hard,” Synders said with tears in her eyes, “I keep hoping someone pinches me and I wake up.” She’s not alone.

20 minutes down the coast in St. Pete Beach Jodi McLean is facing similar frustrations.

“This is carpeting, drywall, pull-out sofa, mattresses,” McLean said pointing to the damaged property sitting on her lawn.

Both families have flood insurance but need help financing temporary housing.

“It gives you anxiety not knowing where are we going to go? Can we live here, I don’t know. So we’re waiting on additional resources,” McLean said.

Madeira Beach city leaders hosted a town hall Tuesday with county and state leaders. They say despite hundreds of families in need, FEMA hasn’t decided if they’ll provide individual assistance yet.

8 On Your Side’s Christine McLarty called the Florida Division of Emergency Management to find out who families can turn to for help now.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said they’re shifting gears to connect cities with more state-funded resources.

Residents are asked to do the following:

  • Continue reporting damage to the city and the county. This documentation is provided to FEMA and can assist in making additional aid available. Residents should continue to take photos of all storm-related damages and during the cleaning process, take note of lost or damaged items.
  • Contact their local 2-1-1 helpline. 2-1-1 is a critical resource available 24/7 that connects impacted residents with all available recovery resources in their area. Individuals can reach 2-1-1 by calling 211 or texting their zip code to 898211.
  • Visit the American Red Cross’s website for information regarding disaster relief and recovery services. Information regarding emotional recovery and financial recovery is available here.
  • Visit Recovery Tampa Bay Initiative’s website for additional resources. This organization is working closely with state and local partners to determine unmet needs and identify recovery resources. More information is available on their website here.  
  • Fill out a Damage Business Assessment Survey. The state’s business damage assessment survey is available to business owners impacted by recent disasters. The survey allows the state to determine additional disaster-related damage. The survey is available here.

Meanwhile, if you live in the area and haven’t done so already leaders say it’s vital to report Tropical Strom Eta damage to Pinellas County, so they can prove to FEMA that the need is real. We’re told you can submit your damage while remaining anonymous.


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