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FEMA teaches ways to rebuild after Debby

Officials speak with residents at Lowe's store

One month after Tropical Storm Debby dumped record rainfall in our area, the Sweet family home in Lake City remains partially submerged in flood waters.
One month after Tropical Storm Debby dumped record rainfall in our area, the Sweet family home in Lake City remains partially submerged in flood waters.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – More than a month after Tropical Storm Debby left northeast Florida, many are still cleaning up her mess, from leaking roofs to mold and mildew.

Even for those who did file for or receive federal aid, there's still help.

In Nassau County, more than 80 people were eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency help, but the swollen St. Marys River damaged many more homes.

On Wednesday, FEMA teamed up with Lowe's in Fernandina Beach to teach some of the best ways to rebuild and repair homes to make them disaster resistant.

FEMA was providing information and talking to people about moving forward after Debby. Officials say it's about meeting people where they are, so they'll be at the Lowe's store for the next five days.

Phill Lipsett had one question about his flood insurance.

"I was concerned about the premiums that you have to pay to have FEMA insurance," Nassau County resident Phil Lipsett said. "You don't have any choice on that. If they put you in a flood zone and you have a mortgage, you have to pay these premiums."

Richard Bass, of FEMA, said with Debby's high floodwater, one of the biggest issues families are facing is mold.

"I think a lot of people don't know the seriousness of it, and that's what we're trying to inform them of that," he said. "A lot of people will think it's just a little something, we can just leave it there, but if you see a spot on the ceiling, it's an indication you've got problems up further."

To help people with those mold problems and others, Bass can show people exactly what kind of products they need.

FEMA said the advantage of having outreach at a store is that they see people who may not come in to the disaster recovery centers. And when they give people advice on what they need to clean and rebuild, they don't have far to go.

From lumber to hardware, FEMA also answered questions about rebuilding, helping people who want to make sure their homes are stronger if and when there is another natural disaster.

Another key is preparedness, so Bass said he's talking to everyone, even if Debby didn't affect them.

"We've got the information here on how to clean up and repair after flood disasters," Bass said. "We're here mainly due to Tropical Storm Debby, but we answer all kinds of questions, even if you weren't affected by the flood."

Wednesday was the first day of the event. FEMA will be at Lowe's until Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.