Senator Visits Wakulla County

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U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez got a firsthand look at storm damaged homes along the Panhandle coast.

At Linda Bass’ home, he found a mess. Because Linda’s home was so well built originally, it can be returned to a livable condition.

Linda says, "I’m hoping within the next two months that I’ll be able to stay in here."

But Marc and Marianne Lipsius next door were not so lucky. Their house has been condemned and must be rebuilt to code. The extra costs won't be covered under their insurance.

Marianne Lipsius says, "Many of our neighbors have nothing left. It is their entire home, and most of its contents are still sitting out at the curb waiting to be picked up. This is not a wealthy community."

Everything that came out of this house, the stove, the refrigerator, the furniture, all floated out over the fence into the bay. Marc told State Sen. Al Lawson that his insurance companies are already fighting over who owes what.

Marc Lipsius says, "They are trying to blame the other people for the damage, but it’s obvious who is supposed to be responsible for what."

The catch for many who live in older homes that were destroyed is that they can’t afford to rebuild to code, which means they will likely end up being forced from the beach property they love.

Tuesday’s tour brought back some old memories for Sen. Martinez. He hadn’t visited Shell Point since his college days at Florida State University.