First encounters with the storm damage of Hurricane Idalia revealed extensive tree damage with little impact to structures in the Tallahassee and Perry area of Florida’s Big Bend. Spending some time looking at the storm map and praying for guidance we heard from a local contact of an area outside of the media coverage. The God story in all of this is that while two of the team heard this news, two other members of our assessment team were in conversation with a couple in a local Mexican Restaurant. Both pointed to the exact location; Yankeetown, FL. Friday morning, Brian Wagner met with Yankeetown’s Mayor and Chamber of Commerce revealing a huge need amongst their residents.
A little about the area:
Nestled on the Withlacoochee River, Yankeetown is a picturesque community where many of the roughly 500 residents are retired, living in small homes dating back to the 1920’s. People describe it as “Old Florida” with streets draped in Spanish moss. The town came to notoriety in 1961 when Elvis Presley and crew used the area for his movie, “Follow That Dream.” Today a portion of the local parkway has been renamed, “Follow That Dream Parkway.”
Hope Force could not have been more welcomed into this community. The embrace of our assessment team reveals the closeness of this community along with the overwhelming need in which they have. The primary task in this response will be muckouts coupled with the ever important reality of emotional and spiritual care. From trailers to block homes, this community is in dire need of drying out. We are seeing anywhere from two feet to six foot water lines on the exterior homes, with most of them penetrated by those flood waters. As one city official shared, “We can use all the help we can get.” A resident shared, “We have been overlooked in the news.”
We are currently seeking more Reservists to join those already on the ground. We are also asking for donations to provide the means by which we serve this community and others here on the gulf coast of Florida. Would you consider making a donation to our Hurricane Idalia Deployment?