Brentwood volunteers respond to Hurricane Ian damage

Crews from Tennessee are helping in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Ian devastated southwest Florida. WSMV's Marissa Sulek reports.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 5:42 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - People across Florida are dealing with damaged homes, but help may not come for weeks. That’s where Hope Force International, a non-profit organization from Brentwood, comes in.

The group recently responded to the deadly flooding in eastern Kentucky and the tornados in Western Kentucky last winter. Now, they are in Fort Meyers, where 150 mile per hour winds and devastating storm surge tore through the area.

“It is a community that has been impacted and trees down,” said Joey Stoltzfus, a Hope Force volunteer. “Parts of their roofs are messed up and parts of their three season rooms are messed up.”

The pictures Hope Force took on the ground shows just some of the damage the group has seen. Stoltzfus said it’s hard to know where to start cleaning up, but what they can do now is listen to victim’s stories.

“Many people here weren’t expecting this,” he said. “Many people here were expecting Tampa to be slammed.”

It’s going to take a lot to rebuild, Stoltzfus said, but first they must patch up the holes. Stoltzfus knows when so many homes are destroyed, it takes time for insurance companies and contractors to respond, so a tarp can save victims.

“The strength of what we have to offer is roof tarping, which in these situations a roof top can prevent more water damage,” he said. “It gives them time and a sense of security to know that no more damage is going to happen.”

The Hope Force International team says they don’t know how long they will be in Florida, but they will stay as long as they are needed.

“We could easily be here for a couple months,” Stoltzfus said. “A lot of that depends on our volunteer levels.”

Hope Force says they are always taking volunteers. If you can’t physically go to Florida, you can donate on their website.