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 | Teresa Peterson

Idalia Impacts Local Community, Including Churches and Schools

August 30, 2023 | The National Hurricane Center is predicting significant impacts from storm surge along the Gulf coast of Florida due to Hurricane Idalia that made landfall along the Big Bend of Florida on August 30, 2023.

Early assessments report that Notre Dame Catholic School in Hernando County has experienced minor water damage due to the storm. 

Florie Bueno, principal of Notre Dame Catholic School in Hernando County is grateful that she didn’t have any damage at her home in Trinity. However, two teachers who live in the Hudson Beach area had their homes flooded.

“The water reached their mailboxes,” said Buono.

The school also sustained some water damage from a leaking roof.

She expects that families and students have been impacted but is not sure of the scope yet. She knows her community will come together to support families in need.

“We have a strong community. Our families are very supportive. We will start a drive if we need to or round up volunteers to help with clean up as needed,” said Buono.

The five counties of the Diocese of St. Petersburg are located along the Gulf Coast and Tampa Bay. Rising waters have covered coastal and low-lying areas, and has caused flooding in homes, schools, churches, and businesses.

Since it was announced that West Central Florida would feel impacts from Idalia, Bishop Gregory Parkes has been praying for the safety of all in the storm’s path.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg Hurricane Task Force, led by Dr. Lois Locey, has been monitoring the storm’s movement and effects on this area.

“Our team has been praying for all affected by this dangerous storm. We thank God for His continued protection, before, during and after the storm, and we pray that God will continue to keep everyone safe,” said Dr. Locey, Chancellor for Administration and Chief Operating Officer for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Diocesan schools were closed August 29 and August 30th. Parishes were closed at the discretion of pastors or by government evacuation orders.

The Office of Catholic Schools and Centers has been in contact with the leadership of all 46 Catholic schools and centers and making preparation to open as soon as it’s safe to do so. Many schools are waiting to make a decision until the afternoon high tide and storm surge pass. Parents/Guardians will receive communications directly from their school/early childhood center later this afternoon. 

“We still don’t know the full impact of the storm. We are currently assessing the damage across our five counties and that will take at least a few days,” added Dr. Locey.

In addition to being concerned about their own safety and homes, staff members and volunteers with Catholic Charities worked to evacuate 140 residents of Pinellas Hope to safety.  The homeless shelter is in a mandatory evacuation zone. They also evacuated 115 residents from Fountain View Apartments in St. Petersburg and Riviera Manor Apartments in Tampa.

The Diocese has a Disaster Relief Fund that will be utilized to help with recovery efforts. Catholic Charities will be tasked with assisting as many families as possible with post-storm relief.

For those who are able to contribute to the Disaster Relief Fund, click here.