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In the three weeks since Hurricane Idalia flooded Cedar Key, the residents have been working to piece the town back together. Idalia made landfall on August 30, roughly 50 miles north of Cedar Key. The storm brought high winds, storm surge, and flooding to Florida’s Gulf coast, damaging many of the older homes and businesses and littering the island with debris.

The cleanup began as soon as the storm cleared. Debris from trees and damaged buildings was piled and removed once the water began to recede. While the volunteer crews have made a huge difference in cleaning up, some impacts from the hurricane will be felt for much longer.

“There’s another component to consider after a storm like that; it’s the long-term effects,” said Cedar Key Mayor, Heath Davis. “Life goes on and we start to forget, but the folks that don’t forget are the service workers that get hurt by this. A ton of moms and dads bought clothes and school supplies for their kids on credit, looking forward to Labor Day weekend business that should have paid it off, but that business didn’t come. They haven’t been able to go back to work as we rebuild from damage, and those bills are still hitting.”

The Cedar Key Food Pantry, which feeds thousands of families in Levy County, has been working to help these impacted families not only by providing food but also with their Disaster Relief Fund. Running the fund through the Pantry means that the people who need money the most can get it without having to wait or navigate a lot of red tape.

“We are very resourceful and with these funds,” said Cedar Key Food Pantry Director, Sue Colson. “We have been able to help a lot of people who have been displaced from work due to businesses closing while they complete repairs. We’re also helping with damages to some of the low-income or disabled family homes, and with donations, we are able to do that right away, which makes a big difference.”

To support the Cedar Key Food Pantry’s Disaster Relief Fund, the Black Prong Bar & Grill hosted a series of four Night of Giving events, where the restaurant donated 20% of its Monday night sales to the Food Pantry. On October 2nd, the last Monday in the series, Big Lick Gives Charity Committee pledged to match all cash or check donations brought by guests that evening. Guests brought a total of $4,200 in donations to dinner in support of the Cedar Key disaster relief fund. All in all, the guest donations combined with the match and the 20% from restaurant sales over the four Mondays, totaled $10,517 raised.

“The beauty of this kind of donation is that it is from one charitable organization to another,” Mayor Davis said. “There are no administrative fees so if you give $100, that $100 goes right to the people who need it.”

The Black Prong Bar & Grill happily supports local charitable organizations through their Night of Giving, on select Mondays where 20% of the evening’s sales are donated. If you are interested in hosting a fundraiser at the Bar & Grill, fill out the application form!

The Cedar Key Food Pantry experienced at least 3 ft of seawater sloshing through their building after Hurricane Idalia. The water damaged the refrigerators and freezers that held donated food and forced the pantry to close for over a week as they repaired the damage.

With the Pantry closed, Cedar Key churches came together and helped ensure everyone could receive food. They served hot meals, bagged non-perishable food, collected cleaning supplies, and offered water bottles for pick up in the immediate aftermath of the storm while the Pantry had to close. On September 13th the Pantry was able to re-open due to the hard work of many volunteers cleaning the building and donations to purchase new appliances.

“We were able to service 83 families last Wednesday, despite running out of some food items due to lack of storage,” Colson said. “Once the refrigerators are delivered we will be able to serve even more families.”

Those seeking another way to give back can still support Cedar Key recovery by donating to gofundme pages for local businesses such as The Island Room restaurant, Duncan’s on the Gulf, and Tidewater Tours to help with their specific recovery needs.