This is not designed to brag about our efforts to assist our membership during the recovery. Although, what we have seen from everyone is overwhelmingly impressive and a testament to the unity of our association.
As you know, the entire southern portion of the state was hammered by Hurricane Irma and the storm caused major flooding all the way up into the Northeast.
By Monday evening, September 11, the storm was in Georgia so much of the state was experiencing evening sunshine, but no power, severe damage and toxic flood waters. John Rivera and his team were already in the field performing clean up for members. Clearing driveways of down trees, cutting trees off of roofs and shuttling food and supplies.
By Tuesday, our entire team in south Florida was performing clean up, providing food and water, along with securing food for the officers working extensive shifts. A team moved in from the Tampa Bay area to assist the Southwest portion of the state.
By Wednesday, a team led by Brittney Welborn carried fuel, food and supplies to our correctional officers in the â€œiron triangleâ€ who were without power and experiencing a rising flood of water. Jim Baiardi led the efforts in the South to fed every correctional institution.
On Thursday, the cavalry was in full motion. Gary Bradford, Abe Carmack and George Lofton had secured commitments from Publix and Walmart to bring in two truckloads of supplies for South Florida. Tampa PBA had already brought a shipment of food for the Fort Myers area and Matt Sellers was coordinating efforts to feed over 100 troopers in the field who had not been fed in nearly two days. Mick McHale had his contacts in New York hauling in a load from the North all the way down to â€œthe Keysâ€ but they were stuck in Jacksonville so Kim Kilpatrick of Coastal PBA got a team from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office together to secure the supplies and make the remainder of the trip.
Friday saw the first shipment from Tampa come into South Florida and the amount was so massive that the supplies were allowed to travel all the way down to mile marker 48. John and his team were feeding over 1,800 officers during the day. Jimmy and Brittney continued to feed correctional officer while power was being restored and the flood waters were receding.
On Saturday, the New York supplies arrived via Coastal Florida PBA. Followed by another shipment from Tampa Bay via George Lofton and Suncoast PBA on Monday.
In just a few days following a major disaster, the Florida PBA with all its chapters and charters and its partners like Publix, Walmart and our friends from New York answered the call.
I am honestly awed by how generous and compassionate everyone has been.
God Bless you,
Florida Police Benevolent Association