On September 10, 2017 Hurricane Irma impacted the Tampa Bay area with Category 1 winds and storm surge in some parts of the region. While Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties were spared the worst as the storm tracked directly east of the area, several inches of rain, up to 3 feet in storm surge in some coastal locations and sustained tropical storm force winds damaged homes and businesses. Additionally, the tri-county region experienced power outages at levels not seen in years. Within this area, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved 95,000 households for assistance with over $100 million being distributed through the Individuals and Households Program alone. At the height of the storm nearly 80,000 people sought refuge in public shelters.
In the months following the hurricane, 4,366 households sought shelter in local hotels through FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance program. Concurrently while it does appear that a higher number of renters have been adversely affected because of Irma, FEMA approved 12 maximum grants for homeowners in our community. Finally, there were two deaths associated with Hurricane Irma in Pinellas County, according to the Pinellas County Medical Examiner.
A major hurricane could have a devastating impact on Tampa Bay as it is one of the most vulnerable areas in the country due to extreme weather and rising sea levels and global warming is likely to bring more of both!