As Hurricane Irma set her sights on Collier County in September, we at the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office watched as an even stronger force rose to meet her.
Neighbors helped install hurricane shutters. Friends welcomed strangers to weather the storm in safe places.
We wished each other good luck and safety, and checked in whenever possible. And folks banded together in the aftermath of the storm to donate food and water to those in need. They grabbed chain saws and cleared neighbor’s driveways and opened their homes so those without power or water could get some relief.
Our first responders pulled long shifts to keep the roadways and our property safe. County employees labored on weekends and overnight to ensure we had safe drinking water and hot meals. Utility crews restored power at break neck speed.
We are prouder than ever to be #CollierStrong. But the work is far from over.
Hurricane Irma wreaked widespread and significant damage. The storm destroyed homes and sent flood waters rushing into others, ruining personal possessions, spreading mold and making some places unlivable. Families face months of recovery and thousands in repairs and cleanup.
And as you know, some of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Irma, places such as Immokalee and Everglades City, were already hard pressed to make ends meet.
So what can we do to help? How can we continue to display that communal strength we showed in the immediate aftermath?
The following is by no means a comprehensive list of ways to share of your time and resources, but it’s a start. And there’s no better way to pass on the importance of caring and sharing to our children than to invite them to take part in these activities and to lead by example.
IF YOU WANT TO HELP, YOU CAN:
- Contribute to the new “Collier Comes Together Disaster Relief Fund” through The Community Foundation of Collier County, which has teamed up with the CCSO and other local law enforcement agencies
- Sign up at VolunteerFlorida.org to be dispatched to help in local relief efforts
- Donate or spend time helping Habitat for Humanity of Collier County rebuild its homes
- Volunteer at a local nursing home, where residents were shaken up and displaced during the storm
- Send food with Meals of Hope with a donation
- Help the American Red Cross provide food, shelter and comfort with a donation
- Ask your church how they’re helping and volunteer with other parishioners
And if you don’t have time or money to lend, we’re sure you have a well of kindness you can share. Smile more. Ask your coworkers how they’re doing – and mean it. Let someone cut in line at the grocery store or offer to watch a friend’s children while they make repairs to their home or just get away for the evening.
Together we can show each other and everyone watching what it means to be #CollierStrong.
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