VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — After years of back-and-forth with the State of Florida and Volusia County, a Port Orange man says he is still waiting to get public money for hurricane relief after his home was damaged during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
What You Need To Know
- Port Orange man's home was damaged in Hurricane Matthew in 2016
- Gary McKinley still has not received relief funds to repair his home
- Bureaucracy, paperwork issues have slowed delivery of aid
- As a result of the damage, roof and floor of mobile home falling apart
“The whole place was enclosed until the hurricane hit it," Gary McKinley said, pointing to the front porch on his Port Orange mobile home, which used to be screened in.
After a devastating blow from Hurricane Matthew, Gary’s home — his entire life — changed forever.
“This was all hooked on at one time or another," McKinley said
McKinley’s niece, Laura Hettmansperger, has helped him along the way.
“I’m just very, very frustrated for my uncle," she said.
“I don’t know if he has been lost in the system, or they get lost in the system, and I call and then it gets us back up front again," Hettmansperger said.
“He has ceiling that is falling in, that has got a section of the ceiling that has rotted out,” she said. “We have had to put plywood down on the floor and nail it down so that he doesn’t go through the floor in some places. That is just not acceptable.”
Since Spectrum News visited McKinley’s home in early April, Hettmansperger sent video of water trickling into the kitchen and dining room during a rainstorm. After years of waiting, she said they simply want answers.
Volusia County responded to Spectrum News 13’s request for information on the case about a week after a voice mail message was left for officials. In an email message, officials confirmed that Gary McKinley has an active file with Volusia County’s Hurricane Matthew disaster recovery housing program but indicated there have been “some delays and hurdles along the way in being able to move the process forward.”
The initial issue was McKinley was signed up for both Rebuild Florida and the Volusia County relief program, and both receive federal funding so an applicant can only be enrolled in one at a time.
According to the email response from the county, it “resolved that issue in December 2020 when Mr. McKinley withdrew from the Rebuild Florida program.” That resolution came nearly two years after McKinley initially applied for assistance.
In January, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity said a waiver was pending with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to allow disaster funding to replace carports. Projects like McKinley’s, which included carport replacement, were put on hold until the waiver was granted. That approval came in late March.
Lastly, the county says. a contract extension with the DEO is pending to ensure that enough time remains to complete replacement projects such as McKinley’s.
While funds may be held up for the time being, Hettmansperger remains optimistic that someone with the state will push the project forward.
“Please, please release the funds help my uncle get what he deserves,” she said.
McKinley, however, isn’t holding his breath.
Asked whether he had lost hope, McKinley replied, "Kinda…especially when they don’t call back. They say they will call you in a couple days; they don’t.”
Volusia County officials declined an on-camera interview, saying it is in the process of requesting a wavier to get more funds to complete McKinley’s project.
DEO said in an email that the department has not received that waiver application.