Live Oak Flood Victims Still Reeling Two Months After TS Debby

By: Greg Gullberg Email
By: Greg Gullberg Email

Suwannee County, FL - September 16, 2012

When fish are swimming in your front yard, that is not a good thing.

122nd Trail is one of several streets in Suwannee County that are still under water more than two months after Tropical Storm Debby swept through the area in late June.

"We were out of our home for almost two months," said flood victim, Betty Pittman.

She and her neighbors have been asking for someone to pump the water out, but to no avail.

"We've contacted County Commissioners. We've contacted city offices. It's like nobody wanted to give us any help," Pittman said.

Taking matters into their own hands, the neighbors borrowed pumps from nearby farmers to move the water to the property of a generous local land owner.

Today, most of Suwannee County is dried out. Ohio Avenue in Live Oak once looked more like a river. Now it is back to a busy street.

And downtown was flooded in chest deep water. Desperate business owners had to wad through to check on their stores. Now downtown is dry as a bone, but the desperation has not evaporated away.

A massive sinkhole opened up and swallowed a building downtown, condemning the businesses inside. Now stores like 'Big Wheel Market Place' have been forced to relocate at great expense to the owners.

"This is the first weekend that we've been open selling stuff we were able to salvage," said Barney Everett, owner of Big Wheel Market Place.

Everett says he lost $40,000 worth of inventory in the flood. His business is now in a temporary location until he can make a permanent move into the lot next door.

"Well it is a little bit of a setback but that's life. It happens," Everett said.

Everett did apply for disaster relief assistance from FEMA, but he says their offer was so low he did not even take it.

Now all over the county we are seeing examples like his of home and business owners getting back on their feet. But these disasters are expensive.

We first visited Melody Christian Academy in June. The building was sunk under four foot water.

Now it's classrooms are all dried up and back in use. But because it is not a home or a business they are still waiting to hear back from FEMA on whether they will be able to get any assistance at all. So far they have had to do it all themselves.

"It's great to be back," said Quinn Skierski, Church Administrator. "School is up and running. Classes are going. Everybody is back in their rooms. And of course a lot of the students were flooded out too so this is some normalcy to what they are used to."


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