ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Nearly three years have passed since Hurricane Matthew stormed by the First Coast, and its mark can still be seen. People have homes that are still badly damaged by its destruction.
St. Johns County is offering financial help to fix-up these homes.
Rob Ellis Peck and his wife Cathy Peck have lived in the Davis Shores neighborhood for 20 years.
"It was a beautiful old Florida style house," Rob Peck said.
That was until hurricane Matthew wallopped it. Rob Peck has a room with tiled floors and no walls or roof around it.
"This was our second bathroom right here," he said. "It's gone. It took it out completely."
Their sweet home still needs repairs from a storm that hit nearly three years ago.
"There was almost 3 feet of water in here," he said.
His kitchen is in shambles. He put two tables by the sink to create counter space.
"We lost our kitchen," Rob Peck said. "This is a kind of makeshift kitchen."
The couple also lost their Florida room to the hurricane. It is a tiled floor without walls or a roof. Tarps cover the floor and it is now a makeshift shed.
He said it is full of things that they are trying to save, like cabinets, furniture, and appliances.
Like many people after hurricane Matthew, the Peck's got a storage Pod, while they worked to repair their home. Nearly three years later, it's still in their front yard and it's full of their belongings.
"We can't take move the stuff back in yet until the house is finished," he said.
The Peck's, like others, have hit financial hurdles since Matthew. They didn't have flood insurance.
"When the house was paid off, I canceled the flood insurance and the next year, Matthew came along," he said.
They both work. He's a well-known musician and she is a massage therapist but because they are self-employed they can't get a loan.
And then, Hurricane Irma hit, bringing along more damage and more bills.
"So it's additional costs on top of the cost of supplies and repairs to the home," Cathy Peck said.
"It's been a struggle," Rob Pecl said. "It certainly has."
St. Johns County created a program called Restore St. Johns. It is aimed at helping low to moderate income people who have homes that are still not repaired after being damaged by hurricane Matthew. The county with funding from HUD can give homeowners up to $100,000.
"We rushed down there as fast as we could," Rob Peck said.
They applied for help with the program. That was in March, but they say the process has been slow for them.
"Because we're self-employed, both of us, it's hard to verify income," he said.
The Peck's are like 500 other St. Johns County homeowners who have also registered for help with Restore St. Johns. They're all going through the application process, hoping the program will be able to help them make their house feel like a home again.
An official with the program says it is a first come, first served approach. He said work will start on the homes in October and some of them will be completed by January.
For more information about the Restore St. Johns Program, click here. You can also contact Restore St. Johns at:
Restore St. Johns
St. Johns County Hurricane Housing Recovery Program Office (Opens January 7, 2019)
200 San Sebastian View
St. Augustine, FL 32084