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Residents in Cedar Key take stock of damage from Hurricane Idalia

Many of those with homes, hotels and restaurants right along the water found their properties washed away or waterlogged.
Residents in Cedar Key take stock of damage from Hurricane Idalia
Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 31, 2023

Cedar Key is named for the trees that once covered the islands. Isolation was part of its appeal. But now, after the effects of a hurricane, being isolated is a liability.

Thursday, residents and business owners of Cedar Key, Florida, were allowed back on the small island to see what remained, after a devastating force of water inundated the small coastal community Wednesday.

Many of those with homes, hotels and restaurants right along the water found their properties washed away or waterlogged, the result of a more than seven-foot storm surge that spared few.

Aimee Firestein, who rode out the storm inland, returned to the hotel she owns to find much of it exposed by shattered windows and doors, and overtaken by the power of the water.

"When you come in, it's overwhelming. You don't know where to start, what to do — it's just stuff. Keep and save," said Firestein. 

Many like Firestein are processing the devastation, their emotions, and how to start the process of rebuilding.

SEE MORE: Biden to visit Florida on Saturday to tour hurricane damage

"We've had so many guests reach out to us to help come clean. A lot of love and support, so we're very lucky for that," she continued.  

Not far from Firestein's business sits Laura Duncan's restaurant, Duncan's On The Gulf.

"They heard about us. They said they're ready to help and come with a crew," said Duncan.

Idalia's wind and surge took their toll on her establishment. The deck that sat locals and tourists alike is completely separated from the restaurant. Bar stools are just some of the many items from the business swept away by a roaring surge.

"Florida's suffered a lot. It is scary times for us. What do we do?" said Duncan. 

Duncan, with the help of friends and crews, is cleaning up and drying out. Many along the water can't get insurance to help cover the cost of repairs. Those repairs will likely have to come out of their pockets. One of the priorities is getting power and sewage back up for residents to safely return to the island.

For many on the island, they start the process of cleaning up and rebuilding, knowing hurricane season is a long way from over.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has toured parts of Florida's Big Bend, declared a major disaster declaration for 25 counties.


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