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Ortega Residents Work On Hurricane Irma Recovery

Jacksonville’s Ortega section, off Timuquana Road on the Westside, is among the neighborhoods still working to recover from the big mess left by Hurricane Irma.

Ortega is in a flood zone and it looked it when a WJCT reporter surveyed the damage on Tuesday.  Water covered streets and yards.  Up and down, people could be seen on porches sweeping, carrying bulging plastic bags, and loading cars with stuff retrieved from water-damaged homes.  

Oretha Witcher stood outside her house with a family member.  When she entered, it was the first time since she had fled the storm.  Now it smelled musty and damp. The room was dark because there was no power. “No flooding, thank you Jesus,” said Witcher.

But there was 18 inches of flooding in a house just one street over.  Patricia Humphries was sweeping it out for her husband’s aunt.

“We’re going to try to get furniture out where we can clean the carpets and then she’s just gonna have to see if the carpets need to be replaced,” said Humphries.  Humphries’ aunt has been in the home 20 years and isn’t sure yet what she’ll do as far as the long term recovery goes.

“This has never happened before, she’s never flooded. And we’ve been inside and it’s bad. It’s been traumatic for her,” said Humphries.

A block away, Matthew Moses has used the same piece of plywood to protect his front bay window through two hurricanes. The month and year of Hurricane Matthew is written on the plywood with a big check mark in a box, next to it.

“This year we put Irma, the month and the year 2017 on it. The box has not been checked yet,  just cuz we’re still in the midst of clean up. So we’ll take it a day at a time and see what happens,” said Moses.

Map of area

Michelle Corum joined WJCT as "Morning Edition" host in 2012 and has worked in public broadcasting as an announcer and reporter for public radio stations in Lawrence, Kansas, and Interlochen, Michigan. She also manages WJCT's Radio Reading Service for sight-impaired listeners.