Seminole County continues storm recovery with Thanksgiving just days away

Families struggle with hurricane impacts as the holiday approaches

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Water has only recently receded from some roads in Geneva. Homeowners near Lake Harney still have flooded yards eight weeks after Hurricane Ian and two weeks after Hurricane Nicole. Now, with Thanksgiving just days away, families are drying out and deciding what to do next.

Bob Boulanger lives near Whitcomb Drive and Lake Harney Road. His dining room table is piled high with what his family has salvaged after the storms.

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“I think we’re all asking, ‘What are you going to do?’” Boulanger said. “It is what it is. All the same cliché statements, they’re real. What can you do? I can sit and cry and wallow about it, or I can get up and work, and that’s my choice.”

Boulanger has two campers parked in his driveway, where his family is staying. He said he plans to cook and hopes the oven will be usable.

His days since Ian have been spent ripping out drywall and tossing out damaged items. He’s choosing to do all the work needed to repair his property by himself.

Most families who live on Whitcomb Drive are still clearing out and cleaning up. Driving down the street, News 6 spotted the piles of debris piled high and the dumpsters dropped off at the front door.

“We still haven’t had insurance companies come to some people. Next door, FEMA just came a few days ago. It’s just a battle for everyone,” Boulanger said.

Seminole County estimated around 80 properties have families who are still displaced.

“It’s just hard going into the grocery store, and everybody is buying food,” said Angela Zwarcyz, whose home was also flooded. “I’ll be in the hotel. There’s a vending machine turkey dinner. Maybe I’ll get that.”

Angela Zwarcyz said she spent the weeks after Ian bouncing around temporary housing options. She still does not have a permanent place to stay.

The place she has called home for the last 11 years was filled with mud and mold.

“It’s just overwhelming,” Zwarcyz said.

Zwarcyz, a mother with four children, wonders where she can go and who will help get her there.

“They don’t want to be with me in the hotel. They don’t want to be in the camper because it’s small,” Zwarcyz said. “I’m missing time with my children, and they’re growing up.”

She hopes to find a way to get a camper on her property she can stay in. She has also applied for help from FEMA. She hopes they will buy her out or help raise her home, but both options take time.

The deadline to apply for assistance from FEMA has been extended in Seminole County to Jan. 12.

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About the Author:

Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.