With Ian gone, Orange County residents are trying to recover, but help is available
Saturday, October 1, 2022
NASA Earth Observatory
The simulated natural-color satellite image was acquired at 9:10 am on Wednesday, Sept. 28, when Hurricane Ian had sustained winds of 155 mph, making it a major Category 4 hurricane.
Updated Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022: Duke Energy said that it had planned to restore power to about the 15,000 customers that still lost power due to Hurricane Ian. The company, which has 1.9 million customers in Florida, said it restored power to about 1 million customers since the storm passed through the state.
Also, on Monday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said there is only one shelter now open, which is operated by the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. It is at the South Econ Recreation Center, which is pet-friendly and handicapped accessible. He also said that he signed an extension of an executive order declaring a State of Emergency, which allows the county flexibility to provide services, resources and support. Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Individual Assistance program, residents who qualify can get up to $37,900 for home repairs and up to $37,900 for other lost property such as damaged automobile or other property. They can apply through DisasterAssistance.gov, call 800-621-3362 or download the FEMA mobile app. Other disaster assistance resources are also available including Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance, Economic Injury Disaster Loan and FloridaDisaster.biz.
District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson said that the Heart of Florida United Way is also accepting applications for one-time assistance for food and emergency supplies, which come in the form of a $300 Walmart e-gift card. Applicants, who must be residents of Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties, must be over 18 and attest that they were adversely impacted by Hurricane Ian such as income loss from work closures, loss of food or damage to property. She also urged monetary and/or other donations, such as food, bedding and flashlights, to Matthew's Hope or other local assistance groups.
Governments, emergency personnel and utilities are reaching out to help residents across Florida and Orange County cope and recover from Hurricane Ian.
While some residents are dealing with power outages and property damage, many are dealing with the immediate proble of trash pickup that was suspended and yard debris left by the storm.
The city of Ocoee said on its website that while City Hall and administrative offices were closed Friday, it expects to resume normal operations Monday. The city said in a Thursday notice that regular trash collection was expected to resume Friday, with recycling pickup resuming its normal schedule next week.
The city of Winter Garden reopened City Hall Friday and said in an afternoon update that trash, recycling and bulk collections will resume Monday if the county’s landfill is open. Yard waste pickup will begin “on or around Monday, October 3,” but that may vary depending on the amount of debris collected.
The town of Windermere said Waste Pro would be removing residential limb debris beginning at 5:30 am Saturday. The debris should be curbside and no household waste or recycling will be collected. The town of Oakland said that regularly scheduled rash and recycling pickup will resume Monday.
Residents dealing with property damage and losses can now get help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Individuals and households can apply to the FEMA Individual Assistance, which may include “temporary housing assistance, basic home repairs and certain other uninsured disaster-related needs,” said the agency in a press release. Residents can apply through disasterassistance.gov, by calling 800-621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. or by using FEMA’s mobile app.
As of Friday evening, more than 82,000 Duke Energy customers and more than 13,600 Orlando Utilities Commission customers in Orange County are still without power, according to PowerOutage.us. It appears more than 1,000 Duke customers in Oakland, Ocoee, Windermere and Winter Garden are still without power as of Friday, according to the company’s outage map.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said at a Friday morning press conference that the storm was bad “but it could have been a lot worse” and it will “take probably the next week or better to really get far into recovery.” The storm dumped about 10 to 16 inches of rain across the county that resulted in significant flooding that has affected roadways, assisted living facilities and other areas, he said.
Demings said some good news is that FEMA added Orange County to the disaster declaration, which will allow the county to get reimbursements for collecting debris, among other things. He also said that about a quarter of the Lynx bus routes are now operational, but pointed out that a “significant number of traffic signals are still out,” creating hazards in communities.
As of Friday morning, more than 1,000 residents were still at shelters including 80 at special-needs shelters, he said. However, the county in a 2 p.m. update said that Ocoee High School, which was one of several shelters available, had closed. Shelter information can be found here.