Irma Related Initiative In Clay County Calls On Public For More Funding Help

Nov 9, 2017

Clay County residents were among some of the hardest hit by Hurricane Irma in September and many are still recovering.

To help them get back on their feet quicker, a group of residents, lawmakers and even a rock star are pulling together more funding for a new initiative


At the Main Street Boat Ramp in Middleburg Thursday, workers loaded a dump truck with debris from along

A dump truck is getting packed with debris at Black Creek Thursday
Credit Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Black Creek.

Overall, more than 1,300 homes were damaged or completely destroyed by flood waters reaching as high as five feet.

Although federal emergency responders swept in at the height of the historic deluge of rain, State Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said two months after Irma flooded the county, some of the urgency has evaporated with the water.

“When you see all the other things that are happening in our world right now, it’s easy for people to move on to the next big event, the next big news story,” Bradley said. “But all of us who live here, who have seen the devastation that occurred, particularly in the Black Creek area, understand that this is unlike anything that our community has dealt with before.”

Bradley, who grew up in Clay County, was flanked by State Rep.Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, and employees of Mercy Support Services. The nonprofit is in charge of a new organization — Recovering Clay, which has a goal of raising $500,000 by Valentine’s Day.

The funding will go to sheltering displaced residents and providing material support to people who’ve run out of FEMA aid, but still need help.

In addition to getting $100,000 raised by the two local lawmakers, Recovering Clay is also bolstered by a different kind of celebrity — rock star Bobby Ingram of Molly Hatchet fame.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world. I’ve seen different countries, different states, different counties,” he recounted.

But Ingram said there’s no place like home. He and a host of other local and out-of-town acts are set to play a benefit concert this Saturday at the Thrasher Horne Center. The proceeds will go to Recovering Clay.

Cummings also said Walmart has agreed to donate to the fund, though he wasn’t yet sure how much.

Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.