Nov. 30 marks the end of what will be one of the most destructive hurricane seasons on record. From the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean, hundreds of lives and thousands of homes have been lost to wind, rain and flooding.
Those of us who convoyed to Houston in the days following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall (“Houston or Bust: Jeepers Rally for Hurricane Relief,” Sept./Oct. 2017, Page 12) returned just in time to prepare for Hurricane Irma. You no doubt recall the warnings that Irma would affect every part of the peninsula. We did get hammered, but we survived. Many of our fellow Floridians, including those who live in the southern part of the state, were not as lucky.
Our convoy reassembled to deliver to Naples, Fla., extra supplies from the Houston donation drive as well as some newly purchased relief items. The Naples mission turned into a trial run of sorts for what we later named the “Central Florida Jeep Response Team.” Coty Byers of Blackwater Jeepers and I had both been approached by area Jeep group leaders. Everyone wanted to help.
In addition to representatives from Jeepin’ Central Florida, the newly formed team will represent the Jeep groups that were part of the first or second mission. Each group will name a CFJRT captain and a lieutenant who can serve beside them or in their stead. When the opportunity to help arises, those officers will supply however many volunteers and vehicles are needed from each group to successfully execute the mission.
I am pleased to report that the Naples mission went off without a hitch. We were able to deliver the aforementioned supplies as well as home-cooked food to hundreds of hurricane victims in a city shelter, thanks in no small part to one of our members, Brenda Oliver. Brenda stayed up all night cooking lasagna, chicken and yellow rice, goulash and cornbread, and we brought enough hot dogs and canned goods to feed a small army — all delivered by Jeep, truck and trailer.
Much work lays ahead, but, based on everything I know about our community, a spirit of togetherness and selflessness will make the Central Florida Jeep Response Team a continued success. Hurricane season is almost over, but as Jeepers, we are ready to help whenever any emergency arises. Let’s put our vehicles and our team spirit to good use.