NEW SHARON, Iowa — The death toll continues to rise from Hurricane Michael, reaching 36 Saturday after a handful of Southern states were ravaged by the storm 20 days ago. The damage is still extensive, especially on the Florida panhandle, where the New Sharon fire department is heading next month to help pick up the pieces.
“Mother nature is upset. We started this back in 2005 and the name of our group is first responders first,” New Sharon Fire Captain, and former Fire Chief Steve Gerard said.
In the past 12 months this group of New Sharon volunteer firefighters has been to Texas, Des Moines, Pella, Marshalltown and North Carolina to help clean up following natural disasters.
“First responders have to continue to do their job, so they don’t have the time to go home and start the process of mucking out their homes and demoing and trying to get started back,” Gerard said. “That’s where we come in. We try to take that pressure off of them, that group and their family.”
“Just kind of makes you proud to help people out that you don’t know, but you kind of do know because they are in the fire service,” firefighter Kelly Mick said.
Gerard says during their latest trip to North Carolina they helped out a retired firefighter and his wife who had almost eight feet of water in their home.
“Basically it’s starting over so we will take drywall, we`ll take insulation, everything comes out down to the studs,” Mick said.
“We went in and it took us almost a day and a half to completely gut the inside of the house,” Gerard said. “We carried everything out to the curb, except we found one shelf and a curio cabinet that had some Elvis memorabilia and we were able to salvage that for his wife.”
And now the group is trying to make another week long trip on Nov. 1st to help those affected by Hurricane Michael, but they need about $3,000 to make it there.
“We’ve got a Go Fund Me account started to replenish some funds. Usually we don’t have to go through Go Fund Me. We’ve been very fortunate that our community has been able to raise and support the trips that we’ve been on,” Gerard said.
Click Here to go to the New Sharon Fire Department’s Go Fund Me page for their Hurricane Michael relief effort.