Cleanup, rebuilding begins in Putnam County

Throughout Friday, Hurricane Matthew ravaged Putnam County, leaving behind fallen trees, flooded yards, blocked roadways, structural damage and other damage in its wake.

On Saturday, a day after Hurricane Matthew ravaged Florida, Putnam County was strewn with fallen trees, flooded yards, structural damage, blocked roadways and other byproducts of a major storm.

Local residents, emergency personnel and utility workers spent the day repairing damage in attempts to return the county to its normal state.

Jason Moore spent Saturday morning at the Crill Pointe Plaza in Palatka collecting scrap metal the Hurricane blew from the roofs of C P Deli and other businesses in the plaza.

“I’m just helping a guy pick up some scrap metal,” Moore said while lugging metal once attached to the roof. “I don’t know what (the deli owners are) planning on doing with (the business). I don’t know if they plan on being open tomorrow.

The buildings in the plaza still have roofs, but most of the building, which are connected, had the tin from their roofs blown off, leaving the plywood exposed.

Workers were already repairing the roof as Moore hauled away the tin. Moore said he and his family decided to stay in Palatka Friday to ride out the storm.

There was a considerable amount of tree damage in his neighborhood, adjacent to South Palm Avenue, and he lost power at about 5:30 p.m. Friday, he said.

But Moore said he’s weathered through hurricanes before, and he decided to stay in town during this one.

“We’ve been here for a while,” Moor said. We know what the storms are like. If the eye would have come for us, we probably would have left.”

Bostwick resident and business owner Jerry Hall was another local resident who has seen his share of hurricanes and decided to remain in Putnam while the hurricane hit.

He said he stayed inside Hall’s, the convenience store and gas station on U.S. 17 in Bostwick, and things were going OK – until the cover above his gas pumps was nearly blown off.

On Saturday, half the cover remained in its normal place, while the other half hung to the ground.

“I was here the whole time,” Hall said. “It was pretty gusty off-and-on the whole day. You could just feel it. (The damage) was quick. I think that it was just a freak wind that caught that thing.”

Hall’s was open Saturday, but the business’ electricity was powered by a generator and the cashier could accept only cash payments because the phone line for the debit and credit card machine was down.

Hall said a pine tree fell behind the business, but is just a part of going through a hurricane.

“It was no more than what I’ve seen before, the last time (numerous hurricanes) came through,” Hall said, referencing 2004, when three hurricanes hit the state that summer.

Many people, like Joe Hizer, had only minor damage. He said there were numerous small branches in his yard, but there was no major property damage.

The only noteworthy damage was a burst water main, but city of Palatka workers responded to his call within 30 minutes and began fixing the problem, said Hizer, who moved to Palatka in 2005 and until Friday never experienced a hurricane.

“Boy, were they on it,” he said about the city workers. “They need to get props.”