boats at the store homosassa

My Reactions to Hurricane Idalia

By Diane Bedard Posted on August 31, 2023

It has been a long, hot summer. The hottest summer on record in many parts of the U.S. After thousands of people relocated to Florida over the last several years, I would guess they are rethinking their decisions. And then, Hurricane Idalia came to visit August 29-30. I am tired.

Once again, Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco Counties were spared a direct hit. Those north of us, particularly Perry, Keaton Beach, and Steinhatchee, Florida, were accosted by powerful winds and water surges that ripped off roofs and took away homes and structures.

Some people take it all in stride, like the folks in Old Homosassa who met up at the local market in their boats. This photo was on Ryan Jenkins’s Facebook page the day after the storm hit with the title, “First annual bring your boat to the jiffy store party.”

In 2022, we were spared a direct hit from Hurricane Ian, which devastated the Fort Myers to Punta Gorda area. They are still cleaning up and rebuilding from that huge hurricane, and some things will never come back.

Hurricanes are Hard on the Emotions

The emotions of hurricanes are hard. First, there’s the hype. “Get your water, gas for the generator, canned food, fill up the bathtub, put all of your outdoor furniture into a safe structure, etc.,” from the various emergency management departments, the news, and neighbors. Not to mention the weather shows, commentaries, memes, and stories.

“Category 1, category 2, category 4 with sustained winds of…”

And last year, we dodged a direct hit.

Education about which side of the storm will get the worst wind, rain, flooding…

Voluntary evacuation orders. Mandatory evacuation orders. School closures. Shelter openings. Sandbag stations. Jim Cantore is here. Spaghetti models.

And now it’s over for our part of the Nature Coast… except for the cleanup, particularly in the coastal areas. And insurance claims. And rebuilding damaged areas, structures, and fences, clearing debris, and trimming trees.

I am tired. Are you? And who is ready to talk business now? We are all whirling from what is and what could have been.

Tired, and grateful that we didn’t get a direct hit.

I live 25 miles inland, so I don’t have much cleanup, no flooding, and I live in a pasture, so I don’t even have tree cleanup, but I am recovering from the company of my children who had to evacuate to our home with my 2-year old grandson who just doesn’t understand any of it.

We did the same thing last year for Hurricane Ian, where we dodged the storm head-on, but were prepared and went through the emotional roller coaster. And then the survivor’s guilt when I saw my friend’s places in Sarasota and Punta Gorda destroyed. Particularly hard was seeing the video of a church camp I had stayed in a few months earlier that is now gone. Taken away by the storm and unable to rebuild.

Image of Ozello from Ozello, Florida Facebook page. Peck’s Old Port Cove restaurant can be seen by its grey pitch roof in the upper left corner.

What about My Neighbors?

“Are my neighbors ok? Did the power go out? Have the warnings, watches, and advisories been lifted?”

This time, with Hurricane Idalia, my empathy is focused on the coastal areas of our Nature Coast, from Port Richey to Cedar Key. With friends owning property in Weeki Wachee, Hernando Beach, Hudson, Homosassa, Ozello, and Crystal River, the devastation and cleanup look daunting.

I have heard reports of a 9-foot tidal surge along our coast. Many will need help to get through this. Some will need financial assistance. Some will need manpower. All need prayer.

Good news at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park: the animals are safe. After one of the storms many years ago, the Park created safe areas and procedures for each animal in their care. August 28-29, they were used.

Hundreds of people were rescued from the flooding by local sheriff departments, firefighters, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Florida National Guard, and the Florida Forest Service.

Now it’s time to assess and repair – and there is help available from local, state, and national governments, as well as the Red Cross and several other organizations. Residents will group and help each other in the coastal areas. Look for Facebook groups that will direct you to how to help – neighbors helping neighbors. I saw one in Hernando Beach that will be 9-5 tomorrow.

Florida’s State Assistance Information Line: 1-800-342-3557

If you have a small business, please register at and take the Business Damage Assessment Survey to help state and local leaders communicate the impact of Hurricane Idalia on our area when reaching out for federal assistance. Please note that this does not apply for assistance. That is another step.

Things are Moving Forward Already

Pat Manfredo captured this relaxing sunset outside her Land O’Lakes home Wednesday night.

Once the tide receded, the coastal residents and businesses began cleanup. Meanwhile, those in the central and eastern parts of the Nature Coast are open for business. Along the coast, those who can, are and the rest are working hard to get back open. Each day down means no income and lots of expenses. And employees need to earn their pay.

Restaurants are reopening, some with limited menus. We went out for pizza at Angelo’s Pizzeria in Inverness last night, although the pizzeria’s phones weren’t working, their food and service were a welcome treat.

If you’re in Brooksville, Chop Block Grill stayed open regular hours Tuesday, opened for dinner on Wednesday, and is open for both lunch and dinner Thursday, returning to regular hours and days.

In New Port Richey, the White Heron Tea and Gifts is offering a relaxing pot of tea and some delicious scones in their tea parlor, or a light lunch and Happy Hour, which includes cucumber and chicken salad sandwiches without the reservations that are usually required.

Masaryk Winery is open for brunch this weekend.

New Port Richey police and firefighters rescued residents from Hurricane Idalia. Image from their Facebook page.

Government offices have reopened.

Pasco County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources reported that all of their recreational complexes are back open, as well as the Heritage Park Community Center, Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus, and James Irvin Civic Center.

Withlacochee River Park, Crews Lake Park, Moon Lake Park, Middle Lake Park, Peterson Park, and Lake Lisa Park are open. Anclote Gulf Park, portions of Starkey Wilderness Park, and the Coastal Anclote Trail will reopen at noon today, August 31st.

As tired as we may all be, let’s keep on moving forward and taking care of each other. NatureCoaster will continue to cover public information to help you get back to your routines.




Dear Diane, You have captured by feelings in your article. I especially feel depressed by the interviews they do with the elderly who have lost everything. Its hard to have do overs at their age.
Faithful Follower,
Sally Redden

Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

Thank you, Sally. I sure agree with you about the news interviews. What can we do to help?

Ian MacRae says

Thanks Diane, long time subscriber and met you personally at the Brooksville Arts and Crafts Fair this past winter. We are Canadians and were worried about our Florida cousins the past few days. Thanks for this update and we pray for the folks on Florida’s west coast.

Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

Thanks so much, Ian.

Richard Riley says

Well said. Copying, with credit, for my missive.

Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

Thank you, my friend.

Chas says

Thanks for your update and info for all our neighbors here in The Nature Coast. Great job !

Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

The encouragement is appreciated, Chas.

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