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Rural Counties Facing Unique Challenges After Irma

September 13th, 2017 by Jake Stofan

 

Even counties that did not get the brunt of the storm are still dealing problems created by Irma.

 

 

Taylor county was spared the worst of hurricane irma’s wrath, even still supplies are running thin.

James Jolley has spent his life in Taylor County. He says it’s been 4 days since he’s been able to find gas.

 

“This is the first time I came back to town and found gas,” said Taylor County Resident, James Jolley.

Throughout the county, many gas stations are still dry.

The same goes for for supplies at grocery stores.

 

Steve Spradley, Director of the Taylor County EOC, says evacuees fleeing the storm and then returning have played a big role in depleting resources.

 

“We’re starting to recover; we do have gasoline today, and we’re just waiting for our grocery store shelves to be stocked so we can try to get back to normal,” said Spradley.

Power is also coming back more slowly in rural counties. Half of Taylor County is still without electricity.

It’s the same story for many rural counties across the state.

Despite delays, The Florida Retail Federation says supplies are on the way.

But, rural counties may have to wait longer than heavily populated areas to see a normal return of supplies.

 

“Our goal is to get gas to as many people as possible, that includes urban counties, that includes rural counties. Right now you’re talking about an unprecedented demand for fuel in Florida. You had six million people forced to evacuate, which is basically almost a third of the state,” said James Miller with the Florida Retail Federation. “Now those six million people are on their way back in, so you’re talking about having to have gas on I-10, I-75, I-95, hundreds and hundreds of miles, not to mention food and water in these stores.”

Emergency Managers in Taylor County say they understand the cause of the delays, but they want to make sure rural counties are not forgotten as response efforts continue throughout the state.

The threat of I-75 closing means traffic could be diverted through Taylor County and other rural counties, putting further strain on fuel stock and supplies.

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