Grant money helps Bay Area residents rebuild after Irma

By Sara Belsole, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, October 13, 2017, 7:08 AM EDT

It's been a month since Hurricane Irma swept through the Bay Area, and Nancy Waddle still hasn't been able to go back to her Pinellas Park home.

  • Grant made possible by Tampa Bay Disaster Relief, Recovery Fund
  • It's been one month since Hurricane Irma ripped through Florida
  • Nancy Waddle among those benefiting from program

A large tree fell on the house, ripping a big hole in the ceiling and allowing rain water to flood her home.

"I had no idea how to go about doing anything and when I look at my house, I had nowhere to start. I didn't know what to do," Waddle said.

Waddle didn't qualify for FEMA assistance and her insurance won't cover the necessary repairs. But thanks to a new grant made possible by the Tampa Bay Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, Waddle will get the help she needs.

The grant was initiated by the Pinellas Community Foundation. The foundation has raised $1.4 million so far in the Bay Area for those affected by the disaster. About $400,00 of that money has already been given out.

"FEMA doesn't cover everything, private home insurance doesn't cover everything, and so sometimes we have homeowners and folks in our community caught in between," Duggan Cooley, Pinellas Community Foundation Executive Director, said.

The Florida Dream Center received a $30,000 grant from the Tampa Bay Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund to assist with recovery efforts. Waddle is one of the residents who will get a portion of the money to rebuild her home.

"We are going to be able to replace the broken rafters and roof," said Steve Cleveland, CEO of the Florida Dream Center. "And then put a new roof on it. Fix the dry wall inside the house that needs to be repaired."

The repairs have given Waddle hope that she will finally be able to come back home.

"I can't wait," Waddle said. "That's what pretty much gets me through is knowing eventually I will get back to my house. It's not much, but it’s my save haven."