Disaster Relief for Hurricane Michael: Florida
At Category 4, Hurricane Michael was the third most intense hurricane to ever hit the coast of Florida inflicting devastation in several areas. Many people lost everything including electric power and water for many weeks. The SSIO of the Southeast Region of USA responded swiftly to see how they could help survivors, many of whom were living in makeshift tents. A request for relief supplies went out to all Sai Centers in the Region. Soon everything, from inflatable beds to peanut butter and jelly to cleaning supplies, poured in from all over the Region. They were stored temporarily in the garage of one of the Tallahassee Sai Center members, Don Lamonica.
After ten days, there were enough supplies to take three van loads to the hardest hit areas. Some areas like Panama City were served by the National Guard as well as experienced relief agencies such as the Red Cross. But many rural families were not able to access the large relief distribution centers in Panama City. They lived in trailers and mobile homes in the woods and, with trees down and roads blocked, it was near impossible for them to get to the relief supplies. So Don and another volunteer loaded two vans with supplies, and drove to Clarksville near these rural communities, where they were warmly received, and their relief supplies were greatly appreciated. As they were getting ready to return, one of the Clarksville volunteers informed Don that they had an urgent need for blankets- both large ones for adults and small fuzzy blankets for children.
Don shared his experience: “I hadn’t received any blankets up to this point. Not one. But God always takes care. When I returned home from my trip to Clarksville, there were two packages, that had arrived late, sitting on my front porch. One contained large blankets for adults, and the other was filled with smaller, fuzzy blankets for children. My heart was overwhelmed by how God always lovingly provides.” The next day, Don and his wife took the final van load of supplies along with the blankets to Clarksville. The people were so thankful for how quickly their needs were responded to. In return, Sai Center members were gratified to help bring some relief to the immense suffering of the survivors of Hurricane Michael.