Items were loaded late Thursday into a tractor-trailer provided by the Swansboro Rotary Club (North Carolina, US — D 7730) and transported last weekend to Marathon, Fla.
While Swansboro Rotary had originally planned to make one trip to Florida, the organisation has decided to make another transport of relief supplies because of what they witnessed during their trip.
“The only way I can describe the devastation between Marathon and Key West is horrible,” said Justin Cleve, Chairman of the Swansboro Rotary executive board, during a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall September 10 in the Florida Keys, impacting the entire state.
Prior to hitting Florida, it wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The Broad Creek collection drive was led by the BCMS Community Scholars, with help from media coordinator Heather Blackwell and seventh-grade social studies teacher Regina Hawkins.
Blackwell, sister of Swansboro Rotary Club member Andrew Barber, said club members transporting items had quite an adventure getting to their destination, including several blown tires.
Cleve admitted they had many challenges while getting the 18-wheeler to Florida, but once the members saw the devastated region, the trip was well worth the effort.
Although the road into the Keys was closed, Cleve said thanks to Rotary Club connections in Florida, he was able to contact a state legislator Rep Holly Raschein, who represents Monroe and southern Miami-Dade counties.
They were then granted special access into the Keys by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department and Florida Highway Patrol.
Cleve and his team rendezvoused with members of a Rotary group from the upper Keys at Monroe Parks and Recreation Centre to help unload supplies.
The scenes that Cleve said he saw on his way in to the recreation center “made me speechless.”
The roads were washed out and covered with sand.
Homes in Marathon were collapsed or moved off their foundations, roofs were blown off, and boats were scattered like toys.
Household items were also strewn across the landscape.
He said many people are homeless and have lost everything.
“We saw one man sleeping in a large ice container that had blown onto his property. His house was just a pile of rubble,” he said.
Cleve said he met a truck driver at a truck stop.
“He was from Marathon and said he had his wife and child traveling with him because they had lost everything,” Cleve said.
“I told him I had a truckload of supplies and I was taking them Marathon. The man collapsed in my arms and started weeping.”
Swansboro Rotary members arrived home late Monday.
According to the Swansboro Rotary Club, a total of 99,000 pounds of supplies were donated by area businesses and schools.
Broad Creek collected more than 4,500 pounds of donations, including bottled water, juice boxes, Gatorade and pet food.
Blackwell said some late donations that came in Friday to Broad Creek Middle School were picked up by a group of volunteers from Goose Creek Island in Pamlico County and transported last weekend to a community centre in Everglades City, Florida.
As for the continuing Rotary collection drive, Cleve said items would be accepted through Thursday, September 28.
Source: Carteret County News-Times