ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Holvin Rosario and his family evacuated their St. Petersburg home ahead of Hurricane Idalia, only to find out their home caught on fire after the storm.
Idalia barreled toward the Gulf Coast of Florida, making landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in the Big Bend area and flooding cities such as St. Petersburg with several feet of storm surge.
One of the homes affected by this storm surge was Rosario’s, which was flooded by 4 feet of water.
Images of the home once the storm surge began to recede show a pale pink house surrounded by palm trees and standing water deep enough to make the yard and nearby road disappear.
Amidst the abundance of water, however, bright orange flames crept along the rooftop and eaves of the Florida home as clouds of smoke billowed toward the sky.
After the fire was extinguished, the once pale pink home became charred in black around the roof and windows. Inside, appliances, furniture and other items were unrecognizable as they had burned to a crisp.
According to Rosario, the fire inspector informed him that the cause of the fire was a short circuit in the garage due to the saltwater.
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"The house is a total loss, burned completely, condemned by the city," Rosario said. "So, we have to demolish the house, and we've got to figure out what we’re going to do."
Rosario, his wife Oxalis Garcia and their 15-year-old son are currently staying with a close friend and hope to be renting a home within the next few weeks.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time the family experienced loss due to a storm. Rosario said that three years ago, a tropical storm flooded their neighborhood, causing their family to lose three vehicles. At that time, their home was spared.
Rosario, an Army veteran, noted that preparation is key when dealing with hurricanes.
"I'm Puerto Rican, and I've been watching hurricanes since I was a kid," he said. "Steps that you have to take care is, obviously, prepare for the worst. The wind, the storm surge, the water, the shoreline. All of those events are going to affect your property and your life."
"Material things are replaceable, but your life, we have only one life," Rosario added. "So, protect your life."
To support Rosario, Garcia and their son, donations can be made at this GoFundMe page.