United Way Worldwide tours devastated parts of St. Augustine after Irma

The president of United Way Worldwide made sure to stop at St. Augustine among the many stops in Florida

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- "This is Lincolnville. We're several blocks behind my office," Melissa Nelson said as she walked along Twine Street. She runs the United Way office in St. Johns County.

This week she got a special visit from Mary Sellers, the president of United Way Worldwide, who wanted to see for herself what Irma did to Florida.

"What was amazing to them was we didn't have to get in a car to see damage," Nelson said.  "As they pulled into our office, they saw debris, mattresses, insulation, and the rubble that has been pulled out of buildings all around us."

Nelson explained United Way Worldwide was able to raise $25 million for /Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, and that could happen for Florida too. However, Nelson noted that St. Augustine stands out.

"We are certainly concerned about South Florida and Texas. It was their first storm, and it was our second in 11 months," Nelson noted.

That feeling of 'oh no, not again' is felt throughout neighborhoods like Lincolnville that took a double whammy from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.

Bill Lazar runs the St. Johns Housing Partnership and helps people rebuild their homes. He let First Coast News into a gutted home in Lincolnville. He explained the damage originally came from Hurricane Matthew. An elderly woman -- who doesn't have much money-- owns the house.

"She contacted us two months ago," Lazar said.  "She had not been able to do any demo. So it was full of mold and mildew." 

He said in the last couple of months, "We got it all demoed and just got it rewired, and then Irma came."

Two feet of water flooded the house, again.

Many homes and buildings in Lincolnville experienced that kind of flooding again.

So did Nelson's nearby United Way office. Sewer water came out of the pipes, flooding the office.  They've cleaned up the mess and chose to rope off the areas that still need attention.

"Right now our focus is elsewhere," Nelson said. "We're trying to help the people of the community."

People, who have been hit not once, but twice by storms that have devastated their homes from the inside out.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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