Families flooded out of homes still in need

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Hurricane Harvey forced countless families out of their homes after it made landfall in Texas last weekend, but closer to home, nearly 40 families in Sarasota were forced to evacuate after a nameless storm flooded their homes.

Many in the Centre Lake neighborhood have lost everything, but they haven’t had to pick up the pieces alone.  On Saturday more than 100 neighbors, friends and complete strangers pitched in to help out.

Nearly every home on 65th Avenue Circle East had a mountain of discarded furniture, carpeting and drywall piled at the curb Saturday. Throughout the day, those piles grew and contracted as volunteers helped pull water-damaged items and materials from homes while others carted the refuse off to the dump.

Bayside Community Church members made the hour-long trip from Hardee County to lend a hand. All week long, donations were gathered at Kinnan Elementary School in Sarasota, allowing PTO parents to deliver truckloads of water, food, cleaning supplies and clothing.

“It touches my heart,” said Steve Strickler, who was forced to throw out all of his furniture, flooring and half of the drywall in his home after two feet of water poured in overnight last Saturday. “It’s overwhelming the people who are offering their help and they don’t even know us.”

“Everybody needs a hand in a moment like this,” explained volunteer Ryan Field. “It’s not right for us to be sitting at home and basically not doing anything while these guys are out here and have no house, no help.”

A few doors down, few things were salvageable in 75-year-old Peggy Steeley’s home, but on Saturday volunteers helped her recover her most treasured possession.

“This is my dad’s purple heart. He was killed in WWII,” Steeley explained with tears in her eyes. Steeley was just shy of her second birthday when her father was killed fighting for U.S. forces in Europe. He was buried in a U.S. graveyard in France. She was never able to visit him there, so the medal of honor is her only tangible link to the father she never knew. “We’re all going to get through this. We may shed a few tears, but we’re going to get through this,” she said.

Donations are still needed for the families who lost their belongings in the flooding. Organizers say the following items are needed most critically:

-bottled water
-work gloves
-plastic storage bins
-heavy trash bags
-heavy duty razor blades to rip out carpet
-sheetrock cutters
-cleaning supplies, including old towels, bleach and Lysol
-gift cards from home repair stores and grocery stores

The items can be dropped off during the week at:

Kinnan Elementary School

3416 Tallevast Rd.,

Sarasota, FL 34243