Volunteers clean up Hurricane Irma-impacted Orlo Vista homes

Families devastated over memories ruined by flooding

ORLO VISTA, Fla. – The people of Orlo Vista were hit hard when Hurricane Irma swept through Central Florida, and volunteers are coming together to help them face the aftermath.

Volunteers gathered Saturday morning to help some residents whose homes were filled with up to 5 feet of water when a retention pond overflowed as a result of the storm.

Walls were cut out and strange smells filled the room of one home that residents said didn’t feel like a home anymore, but more like a shell.

Janet Johnson, whose home was ruined by the flooding, said the toughest part has been seeing pieces of her life ruined by Irma.

“I raised four children here and my mom was in this house before I came to this house, so some of her things are here and they are gone, so it's a lot,” Johnson said.

Some volunteers said that even they found it hard to see families’ meaningful items and places ruined.

“I think it's something that you can try to say, ‘I understand what's going on,’ but until some of the rescuers were coming through and you could see people going through that, there's really no substitute for having gone through that,” volunteer Brian Feldman said.

The volunteers worked, wearing gloves and masks to protect themselves from black mold, while removing furniture, old photos and other items, and tried to salvage what they could.
Residents said they don’t know whether they’ll ever return to where they lived because the flood was too much, but that they’re thankful for the volunteers.

“I'm grateful for any help we can get ... . God bless everybody that can help,” Johnson said.

Anyone who would like to help support people affected by Hurricane Irma, text SUNSHINE to 20222 to donate $10 to the Florida Disaster Fund.

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