79ºF

FEMA center opens in Clay County

579 homes in county sustained damage from Tropical Storm Debby

photo

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County is the latest north Florida county to get a visit by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA workers opened their emergency center doors Thursday to residents who had damage from Tropical Storm Debby.

In Clay County, 579 homes were reported to have damage.

Eric Vyborny's house was one of them.

"Completely flooded. It's unlivable and totally gone," Vyborny said.

He lived off Johnboy Creek and enlisted the help of his friends when he knew the creek was rising.

"I lost some things but not as much I could have," Vyborny said. "My one neighbor, his house was a total loss. He had three feet of water in his home. It's been quite a mess."

Vyborny went to get help at the FEMA center at the Clay County Fairgrounds on State Road 16 West on Thursday. He was expecting a lot of red tape, but he said he's been pleasantly surprised.

He called last week to file a claim, and this week he's already gotten money deposited into his account for rent.

"For as long as it takes," he said.

Ann Wagonner, who works for FEMA, said finding a place for disaster victims to live is priority No. 1.

"FEMA's primary job is to get you in a safe, sanitary and functional home, whether it's an apartment or a house, but to get you out of the disaster area so that you'll be safe," Wagonner said.

Vyborny is now safe, but is looking for a new place to rent and new things to furnish it with.

"It's stuff. It can all be replaced," he said.

If you need help, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA, go to DisasterAssistance.gov or download FEMA's app on your smart phone.