More than 1k volunteers set to help rebuild Harlem Heights after Ian

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Hundreds of volunteers are all making their way to the hard-hit community of Harlem Heights to repair family homes for free after Hurricane Ian ravaged the small community in Lee County.

During one of the more powerful hurricanes to strike Florida, homeowners in Harlem Heights who stayed for the storm feared for their lives. The storm surge soared to the height of people’s roofs, and cars floated down the street.

“You couldn’t go nowhere. Had to stay inside the house and wait till the water go back down,” said Henry Simmons, from Harlem Heights.

Even before the scary scene, the Harlem Heights community struggled. Kids lived in poverty at twice the rate of the rest of Lee County, and parents struggled to make ends meet.

Simmons said the hurricane only made life harder.

Simmons “People still scraping their home out.”
Emma: “Does it break your heart a little bit?”
Simmons: “Oh, yeah.”

Simmons said it would be a long road to recovery.

On Thursday, the volunteer-based organization Eight Days of Hope, which sent volunteers to Harlem Heights days after the storm, announced they’d be back.

“They just happen to be living on this street that saw a storm that happens once every 500 years. And now they’re looking for hope. They’re looking for someone willing to help and take a step forward. That’s what we’re trying to do,” said President and CEO of Eight Days of Hope Stephen Tybor III.

From May 20 through the 27, more than 1,500 volunteers will be in Harlem Heights for eight days to provide free home repairs to families.

“We are doing our best to help families take two and three, and four steps forward to come alongside amazing organizations that are here in this room right now,” said Tybor III.

Tybor predicts during those eight days, the hundreds of volunteers will do between 2 and 3 million dollars in work for free. Of course, the more volunteers-the more work will get done.

If you’d like to support or sign-up to help, you can find out more about how to do so by clicking here.

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