Leticia Torres, 38, and her son in front of her home.Serafin Gomez
The Torres FamilySerafin Gomez
The Torres FamilySerafin Gomez
LIVE OAK, FL- – On Tuesday, Leticia Torres, 38, went to work like any other morning, but by the time she returned to her yellow, four bedroom home on Elm street, it was filled to her knees with brown, smelly water.
" The water kept going up and up and up, " Torres a mother of three said." We never thought it was going to get this bad."
" We couldn't save a lot of the things. We just kind of grabbed what we could, " Torres says, her voice rising with frustration over the family heirlooms, like cherished photographs, she lost. " There was nothing else we could do. We did all we could and had to get out. We can't go in because it's bad."
The Torres family is just one of many affected by Tropical Storm Debby which drifted out to sea Wednesday but has left behind a path of destruction throughout Northern Florida.
Within hours the storm went from a drizzle of rain to several feet of the dark water that came rushing into the Torres family's living room in the small town of Live Oak. The water destroyed the inside of the house that the family of six has called home for 20 years. Live Oak, found nestled between Tallahassee and Jacksonville, was one of the hardest hit towns.
Debby has left at least three people dead, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers, and left more than 100 homes and businesses flooded. While most of the electricity has been restored, officials warned that the waters may not recede until next week in some places.
The Torres family hopes it's sooner rather than later.
" Everything is in there. Our furniture, our stove, our washer-dryer, I mean everything, " Torres adds, surrounded by her family members as they look at her submerged house from a distance.
The storm dumped over 20 inches of water in just a couple days in this bucolic hilltop village.
Water was up to the roofs of some homes and cars were submerged. Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants make up most of Torres' neighborhood just down a hill from the southern town's main intersection. The working-class community has mostly been evacuated until the water goes down and authorities can assess the damage. But for many answers are needed sooner.
"Right now we ain't got no place to stay, " George Torres, 32, Leticia's next door neighbor and himself a father of two says as he looks over his sunken trailer. " We think it is gone the longer it sits in the water."
Torres, said he and his wife were woken at two o'clock Tuesday morning and realized their bedroom was quickly filling up with water.
"Water was coming up fast so we got out as fast as we could," he says.
Across the street from Leticia Torres' house, an abandoned storage shop sticks out from the new river of water polluted by raw sewage.
On the side of the submerged building, a painted advertising displays the image of Uncle Sam-- The iconic American symbol has his finger famously pointed forward with bold words painted on its surface:
" Had Enough Yet?"
For Torres the answer is simple.
" Yes. Because we need someone to come out here (from the local government) to come and see what is going on, " she says as an American flag noisily flaps down the street in front of an empty auto parts store.
" What are we going to do? How long are we going to be without a house? It is scary and it is frustrating at the same time, " Torres says. Her son Lionel, 15, nods and then finishes her sentence before she can.
" Luckily we have a family," he whispers.
" Luckily we have a family," she agrees.
Serafin Gomez covers Special Events and Politics for FOX News Channel and is also a contributor to FOX News Latino. Fin formerly worked as the Miami Bureau Producer for Fox News Channel where he covered Latin America. Follow him on Twitter: @Finnygo.