Rural counties still awaiting Irma relief

By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
September 13, 2017

TAYLOR COUNTY, Fla. (CNS) -- Florida's rural counties say they are facing unique challenges created by Irma and don't want to be overshadowed by the concerns of larger, urban areas.

Taylor County was spared the worst of Hurricane Irma's wrath, but still are running thin on supplies.

James Jolley, a life-long Taylor County resident, said it's been four days since he's been able to find gas.

Throughout the county, many gas stations are still dry. The same goes for supplies at grocery stores.

Steve Spradley, Director of the Taylor County Emergency Operations Center, said evacuees fleeing the storm and then returning have played a big role in depleting resources.

"We're starting to recover; we do have gasoline and we're just waiting for our grocery store shelves to be stocked so we can try to get back to normal," Spradley explained.

Power is also coming back more slowly in rural counties; half of Taylor County is still without electricity. It's the same story for many rural counties across the state, as well.

Despite delays, The Florida Retail Federation says supplies are on the way. But, rural counties may have to wait longer than heavily populated areas to see a normal return of supplies.

Emergency Managers in Taylor County say they understand the cause of the delays, but they want to make sure rural counties are not forgotten as response efforts continue throughout the state.

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