‘A slow trudge:’ Seminole County continues recovery after Hurricane Ian

County officials estimate recovery could take years

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Cleaning up is only the start of what will be a long recovery effort in Seminole County following Hurricane Ian.

As you drive through neighborhoods in Geneva, you can see a drastic difference from four months ago when water covered the road near Lake Harney, but the damage is done.

John Carter walked News 6 through his property and home on Whitcomb Drive, where he pointed out how far the floodwaters came up in his kitchen.

“There are other parts of the house that shifted,” Carter said.

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News 6 first met Carter the day after Hurricane Ian hit, when he took us by boat to see the rising water. We checked in again Friday to see how he’s doing now.

He said his home is a total loss. He is still staying with a friend close by while he recovers.

The estimated cost of Hurricane Ian is up to $330 million across Seminole County, according to Alan Harris with Emergency Management.

“That includes all the cities, our non-profit faith-based organizations and individuals,” Harris said. “For the county alone, for county government alone, it’s right at $38 million. So that includes some of our infrastructure that was lost as well as personnel costs, things like opening up shelters and sandbag locations.”

Harris said the county is still repairing damages to roadways and bridges. He expects the recovery will take months, if not years.

News 6 asked Harris about mitigation efforts for future storms.

“It’s going to be a big role,” Harris said. “Those people that have severe, repetitive flooding, they continue to flood over and over again, getting them out of the flood plain whether that’s elevating their home or buying out their homes.”

Back-to-back hurricanes left some homeowners under water up to two months. Now four months later, they’re still ripping out drywall and flooring, rebuilding, and dealing with so much red tape.

“It’s a slow trudge trying to get the permissions from building departments, permits,” said Carter.

Carter plans to tear everything down and start over.

“With the insurance settlement I was able to get, the property completely paid off, and I’ve got a few extra dollars, so I’ll demolish it and build something new.”

He said it can be challenging, but the property is his paradise, and it will be worth it.

“When I come home down the driveway to the lake, towards the sunset, it just, all your troubles float away,” he said.

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About the Author:

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