Fridays with FAITH: maCares Volunteers Help Florida Residents from the Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew
Happy Friday my faith-ful followers! I wanted to ‘paws’ a moment to share maCares supporters and volunteers, Chad and Michelle Sullivan’s experience with assisting with hurricane relief efforts. Following the devastation from Hurricane Michael in the Port St. Joe/ Mexico Beach, Florida area on October 10, 2018, Chad & Michelle Sullivan wanted to do what they could to help the survivors who rode out the storm and desperately needed supplies. Michelle is a former resident of Port St. Joe and has family and friends who were impacted by this storm. They began with just a modest plan to take Michelle’s Aunt Paula and Uncle Dannie, as well as a couple other friends, some necessities that were in short supply. What began as a few boxes and a couple of gas cans turned into their entire SUV being filled to the roof with bottled water, paper supplies, batteries, and other items – thanks to the generosity of maCares!
Chad and Michelle had seen many videos and pictures of the damage all over the news, and knew the devastation was bad, but they shared how nothing can put into words what the reality of the situation was when they arrived in Port St. Joe. From 50 miles out, almost every tree was down, long stretches of beach were completely barren, as the houses were ripped off their foundations and taken inland, and most of the houses that survived were in very bad shape.
They arrived at their Aunt Paula and Uncle Dannie’s house mid-day on November 1st and were grateful to see that although their home was badly damaged, it was in livable condition.
Chad shared, “Their neighborhood was a huge mess, but by the grace of God there were several large buildings on the ocean side of them that had shielded their neighborhood from the worst of the storm surge. They actually had had power restored that morning, after 21 days, so spirits were high as that was a huge blessing for them.”
While Chad and Michelle were visiting, some volunteers from the Tennessee Baptist Church Disaster Relief arrived to access damage and offer free assistance, including debris cleanup and repair on rooves etc. to make them livable until permanent repairs could be made. Aunt Paula was trying to refuse help, she was more worried about those who were worse off, but she finally relented as the volunteers from the TBC Disaster Relief talked her into taking her on a tour of the damage to her home.
The relief effort in the area was massive, FEMA, the Red Cross, local churches and other state and federal organizations had relief centers set up around the area to assist those were literally left with nothing after the storm. Chad and Michelle spent a few hours driving around the area and speaking with volunteers at numerous relief centers. They found a Baptist church that was very low on supplies and donated the bulk of the supplies there. The most striking thing, to Chad, was that many of the volunteers were local residents who had their own problems to deal with from the storm damage, but were volunteering countless hours to help others.
While Chad and Michelle were at the Baptist church, they met two women who were collecting supplies for a shelter housing displaced nursing home residents. They filled a car with paper towels, toilet paper and trash bags, which they said were being rationed at the shelters, and were desperately needed. Chad and Michelle also met a really nice Officer with the Port St. Joe Police Department. Many of the local emergency workers were working 16-18 hour days and were running on fumes. Chad and Michelle donated Market America Turn Up Energy Drink mix to share with his fellow officers to help keep them going during the long days and nights.
Despite the horrendous damage and loss of life and property that the residents of the Port St. Joe/ Mexico Beach Area experienced, Chad and Michelle were astounded at the goodwill and teamwork of locals, emergency workers, and all of the linemen who were working to restore power and infrastructure to the area. It is going to be years before the area is anywhere close to being back to “normal”, but the display of community and sacrifice for the community was amazing to witness and quite life changing.
Thank you Chad and Michelle for generously donating your time! maCares is ‘paws-atively’ honored to have volunteers like you two!
Check back soon for updates from yours truly!
Wags and licks,
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