All around the interior of the Oshris' home in Flagler Beach is a foot-high water mark to remind the family what happened there.
As Tomer Oshri eased his car down Palmetto Avenue to return to his home in Flagler Beach on Tuesday, Sept. 12, just two days after Hurricane Irma ripped through Flagler County, dread sat in the pit of his stomach.
“We were hoping that the flood water would stay out to the garage,” said Oshri, who evacuated with his family to his mother-in-law’s house in Crescent City on Friday, Sept. 8. “But deep inside, we knew it was going to be bad.”
By Tuesday, most of the flood water from the storm had disappeared from that street. But remnants remained.
The tiled floor in the Oshris’ home, located at 139 Palmetto Ave., was covered with a thin layer of water. Every couch, chair and piece of carpet was damp. In the kitchen, brown water, decorated with dirt and rotten leaves, pooled in all the lower compartments of the refrigerator and cabinets.
All around the interior of the house, a foot-high water mark is another reminder of what happened there.
Tomer’s wife, Yasmine, couldn’t find the words to express how she felt as she dumped water out of a drawer in her daughters' empty bedroom.
The Oshris have lived in the house for about a year, renting from Yasmine’s parents, who have been helping the family a great deal in the past year year.
The financial strain Irma has put on the family, which rents two retail stores on St. George Street in St. Augustine, is the worst part, she said. They won’t be able to work for at least a week. And in addition, the couple’s three children —Ella, 11, Guy, 10, and Mika, 5 — go back to school on Thursday, Sept. 14.
“It’s hard enough as it is without a big storm coming in,” Yasmine said. “I don’t know how we’re going to replace all of this.”
A helping hand
Without electricity, the menial challenge of cooking food has become a tall task. Tomer said that bigger market companies like Publix should look into providing discounts on food for those who live in areas impacted by the storm.
Yasmine’s brother Sivan Shany, who is a U.S. Army veteran and has lived in the home since 2002, said residents of the county should be willing to pitch in to help the community get back on its feet.
“You look at the long term and try not to think about the short term because it’s going to be a lot of work,” he said. “I would say just lending a helpful hand. Come with a garbage truck to help us dump this stuff that we have. Coming twice a week instead of once would be helpful. Things like that.”
A reason to celebrate
Tomer is a positive man.
At sunset on Sept. 20, Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year festival — will begin. And even without power and with their home still in shambles, the Oshris, who originally made their way to the United States from Israel, will be ready to celebrate.
“We’re going to be ready for Rosh Hashanah, that’s for sure,” Tomer said. “Our dining room table is safe. We’re going to get some groceries. We’re going to have a very happy holiday.”
The glass is still half full for the Oshris.
“We didn’t have a good year. But we are full of hope,” Tomer said. “And the main thing for me is that my family is safe. Life is full of struggle. It’s all about you to know how to pass this struggle and never give up and just keep pushing forward. It’s nothing that we cannot fix.”