Today we met at 7:30am with volunteers from YOLO Board,, and even Brian Kelley from the Florida Georgia Line!  In total, we had about 25 people, and we split up into two groups and headed for the Springfield/Millville area.


This was my first day volunteering, and the experience was overwhelming.  As we moved further and further East, I kept thinking, is this the worst of it?  Could it get any worse? It did. It looked like an atomic bomb; it looked like tornadoes came through and tore everything up.  Entire state forests were flattened. Businesses destroyed, signage destroyed. It was very overwhelming, and I couldn’t help but think, ‘this is going to take years and years to recover’.


The first house we went to had a damaged roof and trees down all over the yard.  Our group had a number of chainsaws and some skilled workers who knew how to fasten a tarp, so we got right to work.  My focus, with a few others, was to help clear the yard of all the broken limbs and trees. As we were working, you couldn’t help but notice the house right behind us that had been completely destroyed.   Two houses so close together and yet the trajectory of their recovery efforts will be so different, and so it will go for every house impacted by this tragedy.


The gentleman we were helping was Mr. David (the same gentleman discussed in yesterday’s report).  He was probably in his 70’s and he lived by himself. He was so grateful for our help, and so appreciative to be able to start recognizing his property as he had remembered it before.  I think we really inspired him, because he decided to volunteer with us the rest of the day.


At the next house we went to I sat and spoke with a lady who was sitting in her car.  She was in her early 60’s and had a 22 year old daughter. Her husband’s father built their house ages ago, this is the first time they’ve been impacted by a hurricane.  She told me she had applied to FEMA, and they don’t have insurance. She was out sitting in her car because her house was too hot; unfortunately, the air-conditioning in her car didn’t work either.   It was about 80-85 degrees outside. We sat together and she showed me videos of her granddaughter. She explained that her daughter and her granddaughter lived with her. Currently, her daughter was sleeping with her while her husband slept in another room.  Her daughter doesn’t want to sleep alone ever since Michael passed. She was so grateful for our arrival; she said we must have been sent by god.


We ended up tarping the roofs and clearing the yards of 8 houses that day, including Mr. David’s mom’s house. On our journey home, I reflected on the day and first thought that our impact seemed minor in the grand scheme, but then I recapped the experiences.  I thought about Mr. David; I thought about the grandmother in her car; I thought about Mr. David’s mom; I thought about the one lady we gave cat food to who had just found her cat. Everyone was so grateful, everyone was so appreciative. Perhaps we did have an impact, one individual at a time.    

Reported by: Ashley Horsley, CEO of 360 Blue, Sonder Project Founder and Director of the Board



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