CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — For the first time since 1960, Citrus County recorded about 50 inches of rain from June to September — and officials haven’t stopped counting.
Residents are living with stormwater damage and looking anywhere they can for help.
What You Need To Know
- Citrus County hasn't received so much rain from June to September since 1960
- Residents report mold growing on doors, furniture absorbing water
- The water might not recede for months, engineers say
- Damage cannot be assessed until water levels drop, they say
Several years ago, Pauline Brinkerhoff became a homeowner, thanks to Habitat for Humanity.
“Our youngest were a year when we moved in here, and they’ll be 10,” Brinkerhoff said.
Now she said her home doesn’t look or smell the same.
“There’s mold growing all over the kitchen and the doors," she said, pointing to spots around her home. "All over the furniture. The beds, you can see where the water’s absorbed on the frames.”
Habitat for Humanity officials say they are looking for answers themselves.
Brinkerhoff said there’s not much she can salvage, but neighbors have stepped in to help in any way they can. She, along with her six children, are staying with friends close by, and Wayne Adams next door has helped pump the water elsewhere.
“Five hundred fifty-five feet out into the field, where there are no houses," he said. "So I didn’t want to create a dilemma for any other homeowners while trying to protect seven homes, including mine.”
Habitat for Humanity President George Rusaw said the organization is trying to help where it can.
“Truthfully, we are just beside ourselves with this," Rusaw said. "We feel so badly, not only for our Habitat families but for all families that have been subjected to this. All we can do is try to help, coach, guide and show as much empathy as we possibly can because people are going through hell.”
Under the terms of a Habitat for Humanity contract, once the keys are handed over to new homeowners, they are on their own, but Rusaw said he's working to find answers at the local and state government levels.
But Brinkerhoff and her family need answers now.
“I’d really like to salvage our home," Brinkerhoff said. "That way we can continue to stay here and raise our family, but I don’t know what we are going to do yet.”
Engineers said it could take months until the water recedes and they cannot assess the damages until that happens.
Meanwhile, residents can find a list of actions they can take and resources they can look to for assistance below, whether or not they have been housed by Habitat for Humanity.