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In Orange County, Clean Up Begins After Hurricane Matthew

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Hurricane Matthew sent a tree through the roof of this Apopka home. Photo by Amy Green

Orange County residents are cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew delivered a glancing blow.

Among the hardest-hit areas is Apopka.

Suzanne Allen steps into a blue-painted bedroom where a 60-foot tree has punched through the roof.

“This is our twins’ room.”

A bright blue sky peaks through jagged edges of roofing and wood. A ceiling fan dangles uselessly near the floor. Insulation blankets a bed.

Luckily the Allens' twin children were not asleep in bed when the tree came crashing down. Photo by Amy Green

Luckily the Allens’ twin children were not asleep in bed when the tree came crashing down. Photo by Amy Green

“This is where my twins sleep. Luckily they weren’t in here when it happened. And my other son who was asleep back here was in his bed, but it didn’t hurt him. So we’re thankful that nobody got hurt.”

For 15 years Allen and her husband have lived here with their three children, faithfully trimming their share of a neighbors’ tree while fearing one day it might come crashing down.

The family never guessed it would happen as Allen and her children finished breakfast, after the worst of Hurricane Matthew had passed. Outside there is more damage.

“It’s damaged the roof. It’s kind of down into the roof up at the top. It’s crushed the side there, and that corner of the house you can see is split open, and there was water coming in there, too.”

The family plans on moving into a hotel while they consider whether their home can be rebuilt.

“We’re just thankful everyone is safe in our house, and I hope the same for everyone else, that they’re safe. That’s the most you can hope for, right?”

Besides a few homes like the Allens’ smashed by trees and limbs, the hurricane damage in Orange County is minor compared with the flooding and widespread power outages experienced by Brevard, Volusia and other coastal counties.

Generators hum in another Apopka neighborhood not far from the Allens’.

“We’re over 36 hours already without power.”

Gene Knight keeps his home running despite a power outage with his generator. Photo by Amy Green

Gene Knight keeps his home running despite a power outage with his generator. Photo by Amy Green

Gene Knight keeps busy helping neighbors pick up their yards.

He steps among the snapped limbs in the shady backyard of an elderly neighbor’s, who weathered the storm at her daughter’s.

“What I’m going to do with all these is throw them in the fire pit right now just so when she walks back here she don’t have to fall on them and stuff.”

Next door a generator powers Tony Hew’s window units, fridge, TV, radio and some lights.

“Before the hurricane came we purposefully went ahead and picked up things like baloney and hot dogs, things that are precooked so all you have to do is warm it up. So you just plug the microwave in. It doesn’t draw a lot and warm stuff up, and we use the toaster oven to warm up food that way.”

A tree fell on a power line around the corner. He wasn’t sure when power might be restored.

“We can hang out for a while. We’ve got gas so the generator can keep going.”

At this point he’s glad he took the warnings seriously and was prepared.

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a regular contributor for NPR, PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many other top news organizations. Her in-progress book on the Everglades is under contract with Johns ... Read Full Bio »