Hillsborough County Reaches Out to Flood Victims
Kathleen Autry, her husband, and their daughters, ages 22 months and 6 months, came to the FishHawk Sports Complex on Sept. 29 seeking help from an array of Hillsborough County agencies and area nonprofits.
Like many of their Lithia-Pinecrest area neighbors, the Autrys' rented mobile home and car were inundated by the swollen Alafia River after Hurricane Irma swept up the Florida peninsula. Mentally and physically exhausted, they have struggled to hang on in recent days.
Their electricity is restored, but dark water spews from spigots inside their home on Pine Street. Mold is forming rapidly. Fire ants are swarming in, too, and their late-model Mercury sedan, a victim of the rising waters, only will start with jumper cables.
The couple moved to Lithia in December. "I knew it flooded," Kathleen says, "but I didn't know it flooded that bad."
Affordable Housing, Homeless Services, Code Enforcement, Social Services, Aging Services, and Sunshine Line set up at the FishHawk Sports Complex, 16120 FishHawk Blvd., to provide water, food, toiletries, and other assistance. Feeding Tampa Bay and the American Red Cross also were on hand.
Some County employees even moved into affected neighborhoods, going door to door and offering help.
The Autrys will make do as well as they can. "We plan on staying," Kathleen says. "We don't have the money to move."