On the Friday after Hurricane Michael left its mark on the Florida Panhandle, JC Deriso (Class X) texted Dr. Hannah Carter with news that he had a trailer of food and water and wanted to know if she knew who needed it most. Dr. Carter immediately reached out to Sherrie Miller, our friend in Wakulla County (who has been a part of every WLI class)—she said they were good there, but heard of need out west. So, Dr. Carter reached out to Richard Williams (Class I)—Richard is west of Tally and has been working hard to help people. Richard and JC were connected and JC made his delivery there on Saturday.
In the midst of that, Dr. Carter reached out to Halsey Beshears (Class V) who is truly in the middle of the aftermath of this storm as his district took a direct hit by this storm. Halsey responded with some specific needs for Franklin County and Apalachicola—and with that, it was time to put together another truck. So on Friday afternoon, Dr. Carter sent out her first email to you all and posted on FB—by Friday night, we had close to $3K pledged. Dr. Carter asked people to either contribute to her paypal account or send her a check with upfront pledges. She bought everything up front to worry about money later.
On Saturday, Dr. Carter got a trailer and that evening, with the help of Wes Wheeler (Class V) loading the multiple trips and carts, we spent that $3K at Sams Club and Wal Mart. We learned a great deal from Laurie Hurner (Class VII) and the hurricanes of last fall. Halsey asked that we bring cooking oil as they wanted to fry up all the fish that was needing to be used from the freezers of all the restaurants in Franklin County—he also asked us to bring food that they could heat and serve (think huge cans of baked beans, green beans, etc.) In addition, we wanted to bring food that people could take home and have for the next few days. Also, we didn’t want to forget the two-legged and four-legged kids—so we took baby formula, dry cat and dog food and we completely bought out Wal Mart in bug spray!
It took Dr. Carter about 5.5 hours to get to Apalachicola from Gainesville. Halsey had given her the route to take—it wasn’t a direct path—and there were multiple stops because the road was only one way due to work being done on the electric poles. But we got into Apalachicola and immediately saw the area that they were serving food. We parked and they had a group of volunteers to unload—the truck and trailer were empty within minutes. Dr. Carter said she heard over and over again….”is this all for us?”, “where did this all come from?”, “this is amazing!”, “oh my goodness—I didn’t know how I was going to make it” and on and on. The food and oil to feed the masses, was put off to the side and the food for people to take home was set out on tables with a sign to take a bag full—and people started lining up.
Since October 12th, we have raised $8,900 for those impacted by Hurricane Michael!!!
Because of the continued donations we have received—we are working on our 3rd project for hurricane relief! To date, we have spent $4678—approximately $3400 was spent on the first trip to Franklin County and then approximately $1200 was for our second trip to Altha and was all baby stuff (diapers, wipes, formula and food). Dr. Carter has an excel spreadsheet that she is continually updating with donations and receipts for expenditures.
We will be strategic with what our 3rd donation will be. If anyone knows of specific needs, please let Dr. Carter know and we’ll work on providing support for that effort/those needs. We will also reach back out to Richard Williams (Class I), Halsey Beshears (Class V) and others in the area for their suggestions of direct relief we can provide.
A big shout out goes to Ben Butler (Class IX), Noah Handley (Class IX), Justin Hood (Class IX), and Cody Hoffman (Class X) who traveled to Altha to not only deliver our supplies and others of alumni, but who also cooked for several hundred people.
We also want to recognize Todd Lawrence (Class II) and his brother for helping clear trees and delivering 100 gallons of gasoline to those in need!