2 weeks later, cleanup underway in Levy County after Idalia

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Hurricane Idalia
Homes surrounded by floodwaters in Steinhatchee, FL, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, left behind by Hurricane Idalia. (AP Photo/Daniel Kozin).

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN) Storm Center | By Riley Hazel

A little over two weeks after Hurricane Idalia moved through Florida’s Big Bend region, extensive clean-up efforts are ongoing.

The recovery efforts extend beyond power being restored and trees have picked up. Receiving financial assistance from FEMA is now at the forefront of survivors’ minds.

Levy County Emergency Management Director John MacDonald said he has a list of 17 Levy County homes that are considered unlivable by FEMA. MacDonald said the majority of the damage stems from the storm surge that Yankeetown and Cedar Key endured.

“We’re having them register through the Red Cross and other volunteer organizations for assistance to help them put that stuff back together for them so we can get their power turned on,” MacDonald said.

Record storm surge levels and hurricane-force winds roared through coastal communities like Horseshoe Beach, Suwannee and Cedar Key.

Cedar Key, which remains a predominantly tourist island city, is aiming for its businesses to be cleaned out and reopened soon. Yankeetown, a residential community, still is receiving requests for temporary housing, according to MacDonald.

Shelters in Levy County are closed due to lack of need, but MacDonald is referring residents in need of shelter to the West Citrus County Community Center in Citrus County.

“We had shelters open in Yankeetown a half a block from their homes,” MacDonald said. “No takers. They just wouldn’t use it. These people have been through this time and time again, and they’re just mucking out putting it back together. They’re going back to life as normal.”

Between the Yankeetown and Inglis disaster recovery centers, around 400 people have visited, according to MacDonald. These centers offer disaster relief assistance and can help with FEMA applications. They also provide information from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The closest Disaster Recovery Centers to you can be found online. If you cannot visit a center in person, call 800-621-3662 or visit https://www.floridadisaster.org/updates/

The Crisis Cleanup hotline will be open through September 17. Call (800) 451-1954 to connect with a relief agency for damage cleanup. According to their Hurricane Idalia disaster map, documented damage extends from Fort Myers through Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The Disaster Distress Helpline is open for disaster crisis counseling. This is a toll-free, multilingual support service available 24/7 to those experiencing emotional distress related to natural disasters. Call or text 1-800-985-5990 for help.

The Atlantic Hurricane season is not over yet. Remember to replenish your hurricane supply kit and supplies. Also, please be sure to download the Florida Storms app to keep you safe and informed at all times.

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