BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) — From his home, Richard Hatchett has a great view of the flooding at Peace River Village Mobile Home Park.
That’s because his home is in the middle of it. Hatchett can no longer enter his home through the driveway and instead must stomp through mud to get to the side entrance.
He and his family still stay in the home. It’s surrounded by water outside and lower portions inside the home are underwater.
“We keep the doors closed because the smell, because it’s sewer water. It’s backing up. It’s only gonna get worse. It’s not gonna get any better,” said Hatchett.
He is spending precious cash on gas for his generator. He expects any help from FEMA to take awhile.
“They’re saying they can’t walk in the water to come down here but then they said ‘Ok, you take pictures, that’s a good thing. We can use the pictures.’ Then when we did that, we looked at the application with FEMA and it said incomplete,” said Hatchett.
8 On Your Side has been told FEMA will be providing updates this week on ways to assist the people at Peace River Village.
Last week, Hatchett’s neighbor Felix Atkinson teared up while talking about how the park would flood after a regular Florida storm.
“If the water just keeps getting too high, we’re out of here,” said Atkinson about his plans before the storm.
He and his wife fled the home and have not been able to live in it since. On Thursday, he used a canoe to take some of his belongings and medications out of the home. He also stopped to water his precious chocolate-scented orchids.
“I never really thought that it would get this bad. I mean, I really didn’t. None of us did,” said Atkinson.
Residents have expressed frustration with the owners of the property, Celebrate Communities, which is headquartered outside the Bay area. They feel they have not done anything to help them.
A representative, Mario Tattilo, tells News Channel 8, he will be visiting the site Friday afternoon and the company is working on ways to help its residents.
“We are trying to figure out what we can financially do,” he said. “We are not trying to make life harder than it already is.”
On Thursday, the Peace River in the Bartow area was at 10.33 feet, a slight decrease from its peak over the weekend. It remains several feet over flood level.
“We’ve seen flooding around the Peace River, especially the Peace River Village, that’s comparable to the record flooding after the 2004 hurricane season,” said Paul Womble, Polk County Emergency Management Director.
Officials say it could take weeks for the water to recede and for power to be turned back on.
“We’ve said since the beginning the water here would be the real story,” said Womble.
Residents in need can stay at a shelter run by American Red Cross at Kingsford Elementary School in Mulberry at 1400 Dean Street.