Many without homes after Hermine batters Gulf Coast

Federal, state crews survey damage

STEINHATCHEE, Fla. – Federal damage assessment crews are working with state response teams to help the areas in Florida's Gulf Coast that suffered the most damage from Hurricane Hermine. 

Six days after Hermine battered areas west Gainesville, like Steinhatchee and Cedar Key, numerous people remained without power and some without their homes. 

The Federal Emergency Management Assessment teams were in Levy, Dixie and Taylor counties Wednesday and will then head to other areas like Leon Wakulla and Franklin counties to see what they can do to help the people most affected.

News4Jax met one couple early morning as an emergency shelter in Steinhatchee when Hermine was at its worst.

As the flood waters rushed in, the couple had to get out quickly so they grabbed their dogs and hopped on their kayaks to reach the shelter.

"And it went from 6 inches of trickle to just 6 feet of water, just pouring over the property," Chris Hacker said. "We paddled through our backyard and the people behind us, (their) backyard, and then we paddled to the grocery store."

The home was flooded and everything was ruined, Lyn Charlton said.

"This is the inside of the house. That's the refrigerator. And the big screen TV was on top, laying on top of the refrigerator," Chalrton said. 

The water rose to 4 feet inside the home, which sits over a lagoon. Charlton said she just bought the house two months ago and her insurance company dropped her coverage last month. 

"It's really hard. And I don't think people understand that just besides the devastation of losing your home. You have lost all your memories as well," Charlton said. 

They're not the only ones without homes. State and federal emergency teams are in the process of surveying the damage.

"We have assessment teams in some of the most hardest affected counties -- Taylor, Dixie and Levy -- to help the state and the locals assess the impact and the damages into those counties," said Mary Hudak with FEMA. "That is often times the first step in the process for a governor to make the request for federal disaster assistance." 

It's help people like Charlton said the community needs badly right now. 

"It is pretty much gone. It is just a mess," Charlton said. 

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Charlton get a new home, car and clothes. 

Donations can also be made to Sowers of the Seed, a food pantry in Steinhatchee, to help the community. To donate, write a check made out to the Steinhatchee Coastal Relief Fund and send it to the Fellowship Baptist Church at P.O. Box 172 Steinhatchee, Fla. 32359.

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