JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Southside community is just now seeing their Hurricane Matthew debris removed. Families who live along Pottsburg Creek in the Secret Woods Subdivision say they haven’t stopped demanding help from local and state agencies. First Coast News has been following this neighborhood’s battle with debris since Matthew hit in 2016.
Residents say “finally” about a year and another hurricane later they are seeing progress.
Maureen Kirschhofer is one resident who has been leading the charge to get the debris removed, but says no one would claim responsibility.
“You couldn’t see the water, it was just loaded with tons and tons of debris,” said Hirschhofer. “Oh I wish it was the way it was before, but this is fine.”
For the past year, she’s spent nearly every day trying to get the debris out of her backyard. Fallen trees leftover from Matthew were clogging up Pottsburg Creek, leading to dangerous flooding with every rainfall.
“There was no breaking point, I started and I stayed until it was done
She reached out to local and state lawmakers, FEMA and the Mayor’s office but they kept referring her to other agencies.
“It’s called passing buck, nobody wanted to take ownership.”
Until finally, she says, the state took responsibility and the St Johns Water Management Group took action.
“Two days before Irma hit they came out in rowboats they said they were cutting up the trees in the creek, they cut up a few and put them on the banks.”
It was just in time too.
“When I woke up in the morning after Irma it looked like I was in a raging river here.”
While floodwaters from the second hurricane to hit their neighborhood in the past couples years reached over her deck she says the fact that they unclogged the creek just 48 hours ahead of Irma saved her house, and many others, from being flooded too, but new trees fell in place of the ones that had just been removed.
Fortunately this time she says the response has been quicker, at least for her yard, others haven’t been so lucky.
She says their fight to get something done is what forced someone to take responsibility.
“Don’t give up, don’t give up because eventually, it will happen.”