Today we had two different teams of volunteers out to focus on relief in Panama City. Here are reports of their efforts…
Group 1; Reported & Led by Patrick McCarthy, volunteer from 850 Properties
We were fortunate to have a group of roofing professionals from Coastal Custom Builders led by Tim O’Hara volunteering with our team today. In total, we reconstructed and/or tarped 10 homes, including the Kingdom Impact Center. The Kingdom Impact Center provides outreach to families and youth in the Rosenwald and Millville areas of Panama City. Since the storm, it has served as a community hub, distribution center and a place for residents to get volunteers. Our group also included a crew from 30A Pools & Spa, Josh Jimenez, Steve Paul, Carson Kohlmeyer. All roofing supplies we used were donated by Franks’ Cash and Carry.
Reported by Adam Dozier, Volunteer from 360 Blue; Photos by Brittany Spivey, Volunteer from 360 Blue
I was in charge of driving the van and was pulling a large enclosed trailer loaded with dry goods, diapers, wipes, flats of water, toilet paper, paper towels, juice boxes, goldfish, pop-tarts, canned foods, dog & cat food, and more! There was a truck in front of me filled with gas and tarps. Behind me, there was a refrigerated trailer loaded with ice, sandwiches, spaghetti, casseroles, water, cheese, and veggies. There were two additional vehicles with us to help distribute.
We met behind Rosenwald High School and confirmed our plan. The truck with the tarps joined Group 1, and the rest of us proceeded to distribute. We travelled down Sherman Avenue and its various cross-streets, and we found many people in need of some strength. Everyone seemed to seeking ice, since they had now been without power for over a week. Many people were also interested in any food we had, and they were thrilled they discovered we had cooked foods. One was so very thankful for deodorant. As we made our way up and down the streets, people took notice and approached us with requests. Many requested tarps, which we were able to provide, and we let our other group know if someone requested help.
As we continued on, I was struck by the devastation all around. Pictures don’t compare to what it’s like being there and seeing it all around you. This is life now, and it was clear many people were struggling even before the storm hit. Still, I was impressed with the people we met’s openness, and the selflessness of some residents. One lady gave the diapers we handed her back and said, “we have more that I thought at home, let these go to someone else who needs them.” I guess we were all just neighbors helping neighbors out there.
The reality of some of the challenges people faced also hit us head-on. We met a man named Mr. David who had a black eye and a swollen cheek. When we asked him what happened, he explained that looters had broken in to his home and assaulted him and his brother. He explained that his brother had to be hospitalized and is expected to recover. He made sure to let us know that the looters had to leave empty handed. That made him smile, along with the water, pop-tarts, and canned food we handed him.
At the end of the day, we met back up with the other group. They were just finishing tarping their last house, which had a bunch of small kids. Their faces lit up when we offered them some goldfish and juice-boxes. We then drove down to a local community center and off-loaded the remainder of our supplies before our journey back home.
Our group consisted of volunteers from 360 Blue and the Outpost at 30 Avenue.
We Need Your Help
Any donation to The Sonder Project’s Hurricane Relief fund will go 100% to supporting victims of Hurricane Michael.