The St. Augustine neighborhood of Davis Shores earned an unfortunate new moniker in October, according to Linda Brandt, who lives there.
“Davis Shores, if you’re talking about a nickname, is now kind of known as “Ground Zero” because Hurricane Matthew pretty well devastated Davis Shores in St. Augustine,” Brandt said.
Located on Anastasia Island, the community of Davis Shores is still in recovery mode, even as the rest of Florida gears up for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season. Construction tape surrounds homes, portable storage bins line yards, and some homes remain empty. Brandt is still not back in her home.
“I didn’t really think that my house would get flooded. I had been told when I bought the home that other people have had water in their homes from time to time, but (my house) had never had water,” she said.
Not expecting much damage, Brandt evacuated with her husband to Cedar Key after putting some important items up a few feet. After the storm, she arrived back into a disaster zone.
“As I traveled down Old Quarry Road by the Alligator Farm and came around the curve and saw people pulling debris out of their home, pulling furniture, water coming out of people’s homes, my heart went into my stomach,” she said.
Stormwater reached up to about four feet in her home, causing her to lose things like electronics, furniture, and some of her prized possessions. Some of the hardest losses were the damage to her art and writings.
A few blocks away, Emily Splane experienced the same type of loss after coming back to her home.
“I’ve been saving some school things since fourth grade, and they all got ruined,” she said.
Splane also moved important items up a few feet, but not enough.
“I didn’t prep correctly for what happened,” she said. “We had a storm surge, so the water came from the bottom up. We had about three feet of water from our storm drains.”
Memories of evacuations, storm damage, and storm recovery are far removed from many Floridians. Preparation may seem tedious and unnecessary, but Splane says she will never make that mistake again.
“It’s better to be prepared, rather than wish you had been.”
Brandt says some people don’t prepare adequately for storms for many reasons
“It’s the money, and second, no one wants to think it’s going to happen to them.”
Splane just moved back into her home two weeks ago and is still trying to find her footing. The silver lining for her? The response of the community.
“A lot of generosity. People quickly gave my kids Legos and toys and replaced what they’d lost very quickly.”
Both women agree they will prepare differently this season, and they suspect their neighbors will, too.
“There are people still living in tents, in RV’s,” Brandt said. “There’s debris in the yards, there’s homes without anything in them.”