Hurricane Irma recovery: What resources are still available in Clay County

By Ashley Harding - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - While preparations for the 2018 hurricane season have begun, several families in Clay County are still recovering from Hurricane Irma.

County leaders are stepping in to help and inviting those still in need to the Hurricane IRMA Citizen Recovery Meeting at Middleburg High School on Thursday night.

It will focus on providing people with information about the programs available to help them. Several homes are still unlivable after flood waters from Black Creek caused significant damage 10 months ago.

Some families who still are rebuilding say they’re still a long ways from returning to normal. It’s the reality Jamie Lefferd, her husband and their three children are now facing.

VIEW GALLERY: Hurricane Irma recovery continues

"You see these natural disasters in other places, but you never expect it to happen to you. So definitely overwhelming," said Lefferd.

Their house was damaged by the high waters, their furniture was strewn about and their refrigerator was knocked out of the wall by Irma's force.

Water rose over the first floor and then about three to four feet into the second floor. Even though they're back in their home, Jamie and her children have no choice but to live on the second floor of their house.

"No kitchen. I'm sharing a room, we have double beds in my son's room. So, I'm bunking out with them right now," said Lefferd whose husband is away in the service.

That’s not the only challenge she’s facing.

Lefferd says the insurance company denied her family's claim and they now have to hire their own contractor and pay out of pocket to get the house fully restored. The Lefferds know they aren't alone. 

Town of Orange Park: 

The county currently has approximately 250 homes which are considered substantially damaged and cannot legally rebuild unless they elevate their home to the new flood standards. The assumption is that many residences will either need assistance with elevation or will be seeking assistance with property acquisition.

Thursday night’s Hurricane Irma Recovery meeting is from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Middleburg High School. Representatives from the State and FEMA will be present to outline what resources are available.

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