Keys family evacuates after Irma, but struggling in new home

By Tim Wronka, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 6:12 PM EST

As the Florida Keys recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Irma, many residents there have been forced to leave.

Some, like Angelise Alvarez, have settled here in Tampa Bay.

"My home was destroyed. The neighborhood was destroyed," Alvarez said.

The single mother of four young daughters evacuated the Keys before Irma struck. When they returned, everything was gone.

"Devastating. I cried the whole way down. Nothing looks the same. Everything is the different," she said.

The family lived in Alvarez's van and in FEMA tents right after the storm.

Finally, she got on the road to find an affordable place to live. It took her to New Port Richey, where she used the money FEMA gave her to rent a small, two-bedroom home.


Angelise Alvarez said enrolling her four daughters in school has been among challenges since moving here.

"They gave me enough for two months rent. That didn't even cover my first month and security deposit here," Alvarez said. "I had to come up with more money just to get into the house I'm in now. Moved in, got the lights on and now I have $0. I have nothing."

Alvarez said she has struggled to find a job since moving. She has also had to get her daughters settled into local schools.

Her story is not uncommon as families move to the Bay Area to start a new life.

Spectrum Bay News 9 called around, and there are resources still out there.

The Salvation Army, Red Cross and the United Way are still offering support for displaced families, especially during the holidays.

"It's sad. It's taken away from my kids’ Christmas and everything. I feel bad I can't do that for them," Alvarez said.

If you'd like to help this family out, they have a Go Fund Me page.

This Gofundme.com site is not managed by Bay News 9/News 13. For more information on how the site works and the rules visit  http://www.gofundme.com/safety