Washington Heights neighbors say hurricane relief is lagging

Community activists believe stereotypes about the crime rates on the Northside are the reason why things are slow in Hurricane Irma relief in the area.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Their power was restored over a week ago, but turning on a stove or fridge is still impossible for some Jacksonville families living in the Northside. Some homes on Ken Knight Drive North have been deemed unlivable leaving people with nowhere to go.

Three weeks after Hurricane Irma dumped several feet of water into the rows of duplexes, Washington Heights resident Joyce Williams' says her home still looks the same today. 

Water damaged furniture, gaping holes in the roof, and mildew on the walls have made her home unlivable. 

Williams said there's no where to sleep inside and she is unable to cook for herself because the electrical outlets for her appliances do not work. 

Attorney and community activist Carrington Mead worries stereotypes about crime rates in the area are slowing things down.  Mead has been canvasing the neighborhood for complaints but is disappointed at the lack of resources

"You have a couple hundred households over there that have been affected, most of them are renters, some with infants and toddlers," Mead said.  "I don't understand why it's ok for people to just ignore this entire community of people who have done nothing wrong."

Mead said renters are having difficulties reaching their landlords about repairs and could even face threats of eviction.

"This community exemplifies those who are the most in need but what's occurred instead is they aren't getting assistance," Mead said. "Because they are poorer or very working class they don't have access to the same types of benefits as those who are better off which is kind of ironic."

Other neighbors on Ken Knight Street confirmed they are still waiting on a response from FEMA. Williams said she saw investigators in one part of the neighborhood for the first time yesterday.

Mead along with the Yellow House are accepting furniture donations and hot meal services for the area. 

Interested volunteers or donors can email onyourside@firstcoastnews.com for more details.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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