This is an aerial photograph of our neighborhood in Big Pine Key two days after Hurricane Irma's eye passed 7 miles south west of us. Some of our neighbors houses have been completely washed away, some have lost roofs, none have escaped damage. Although most of us have insurance, the cost of recovery will be great and the availability of tools, equipment and manpower will be limited. Every single one of us had the good sense to evacuate and now we sit, out of state, waiting helplessly, to go back and start the clean up. As soon as the authorities give us the all clear to go back in we will head home to the devastation that was once our piece of paradise. Most of my neighbors are regular working folk, UPS drivers, marina managers, commercial fishermen, landscape workers. The cost of the clean up will be crippling.
I am a US Coastguard licensed captain with over 25 years experience of post hurricane clean up. My first hurricane clean up was Andrew in 1992 and I have been involved in every major hurricane clean up effort since. I was packed and ready to head out to Huston when Irma took aim at us. I stayed longer than most, securing my boats and salvage equipment because i knew that if the hurricane came within 100 miles of us I was going to need every piece of equipment I own to help get The Florida Keys back up and running. Unfortunately Irma decided to send us the most of her wrath and of my equipment has been, at best inundated with 6-8 foot of seawater or at worst swept away into the Gulf Of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. My home is destroyed and my neighborhood in ruins and I am helpless to assist my friends and neighbors due to lack of equipment.
The purpose of this page is to raise funds to purchase equipment. First a bobcat and trailer in order to clear away the debris so we can start to rebuild. I estimate $50,000 will provide the necessary equipment. I may have boats and equipment that are salvageable (I won't know until I get back there) but until we can clear the roads and canals we have no chance to even start getting things back on track. We are also going to need fuel for the equipment, water and supplies for ourselves and our neighbors. I cannot wait to add photos of our supplies and efforts to this page! From previous experience I know that FEMA and the various relief organizations do a very good job of supplying those necessities but I also know that those resources will be strained. What is needed right now are skilled and experienced hands to clean up the mess. I have the skills and experience but due to a slight wobble in the course of a storm I lack the tools. I am hoping this page will provide me with the ability to return with some of the equipment needed to help my neighbors start putting their lives back together and making America's island paradise beautiful again.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to listen to my appeal and hope that you will find my cause worthy of your generosity.
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