Seven days after Hurricane Irma made a powerful and catastrophic landfall in South Florida, John and Candace Freeman returned to their forever home. “It's a struggle now, but thanks to organizations such as The Salvation Army, we are going to make it," says John.
On September 13, The Salvation Army in Canada deployed 10 members of its emergency disaster personnel to lead an incident command team in Florida. The team provided assistance with food and hydration services, emotional and spiritual care, and crisis intervention.
“We were blessed,” says John. “After the hurricane our home was still a structure. We had 11 inches of water throughout our house. The neighbour had 22 inches. We lost $500 worth of food. Others lost much more.”
Two days before Irma’s expected severe damage, John, Candace, their 19-year-old daughter, cat and three birds, piled into their truck, loaded with personal items, and fled for safety.
“The day we left the breeze had started to pick up and our community was becoming a ghost-town,” says Candace. “Gas stations and grocery stores were closed. On the highway there were no tourists heading south. It was eerie.”
With the darkest days of the storm behind them, the Freeman’s are now worried about more than removing water, drying everything and clearing out spoiled food.
“Cleaning supplies and replacing food are costs we weren’t expecting,” says John. “We have enough resources for a period of time, but these are starting to run out. Cleanup will take weeks but our recovery could take months.”