BY ANDREAS BUTLER
During this holiday season, there are many reasons to give thanks.
While area residents are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew that ripped up the area early in October, some expressed this week how thankful they are that the storm didn’t do more damage.
Residents are still trying to get life back to normal – whether waiting on FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance, fixing roofs, dealing with debris, or getting cars replaced or fixed.
“We’re thankful nobody was hurt and everyone is here for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s still debris everywhere. I think it is going slower than many would think. It’s been two months since the storm but some of these piles of trash and trees on the side of the road are small. It looks like they are cleaning up some neighborhoods faster than others,” responded Charles Jones.
On Tuesday, he was helping his grandmother on South Street in Daytona Beach.
A family project
Sam Watson was on Henry Butts Drive in Daytona this week helping family members with repair work to their home.
“We are family. We are thankful to all be here without anyone hurt for the holiday season. The cleanup has been rough. We are working on the roof now. We lost the shed. It was blown across the street during the storm. We decided to do the work ourselves. It’s cheaper than having a company come in. Plus the insurance premium was too high,’’ he remarked.
FEMA assistance wasn’t worth it for the Watson family to complete the application.
Watson explained, “FEMA couldn’t help us. If, we got the loan from them we would have had to put a lien on the house. We didn’t want to do that.”
Volusia County is working to clear debris from street. The county hopes to have all debris removed by Nov. 28.
“The county is preparing for a second and final pass for storm related debris collection on county maintained roads. This doesn’t include private roads. The first pass took more than a month which was expected. There is definitely large amounts of debris. Hurricane Mathew did a lot of damage,” stated Volusia County Community Information Director, Joanne Magley via email.
Even local businesses are still dealing with the effects of the storm.
Even the faith-based community is still recovering.
Mt. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, located at 700 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., suffered significant damage to its roof.
“We are still waiting on an estimate from roofing companies. We have applied to several but haven’t gotten any response. None have come out as of yet. We need an estimate to give to the insurance company,’’ Petra Sims, the church secretary, told the Daytona Times.
Even City of Daytona Beach facilities are still going through repairs.
Work is still being completed on the roof at the John H. Dickerson Community Center, located at 308 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
“The roof is good now that they have finished it. We had some water leakage. The work was done in a quick and smooth manner,’ commented Keith Willis, City of Daytona Beach’s recreation program manager.
Recovery center still open
For Hurricane Matthew damage in Florida, FEMA has provided about $15.5 million in grants to help people with basic home repairs, rental assistance and other needs not covered by insurance.
Nearly $5 million has been given to residents of Volusia County.
FEMA also has paid about $32 million in flood insurance claims to Florida residents affected by Hurricane Matthew.
Time is running out for Volusia residents to visit the Disaster Recovery Center in Volusia County.
To date, more than 1,000 people have gone to the center inside the Florida Department of Health building at 1845 Holsonback Drive in Daytona Beach to meet face-to-face with FEMA, the Small Business Administration and other groups offering assistance.
The center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The deadline to register for FEMA assistance is Dec. 16. Only one registration per household is necessary. Residents also can register by calling 800-621-3362.