ORLANDO, Fla. – Jeanene Farrior and her family were inside her house as Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc in Hammond, Louisiana-- one of the hardest-hit cities 45 miles east of Baton Rouge.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before. I was there for Katrina and this is worse than Katrina,” Farrior said. “Part of my roof is off and water was pouring in my home. All over the place, water just pouring down in my home and shingles off and it’s just definitely not livable. We had to pack up and leave when we could.”
Farrior, who works doing outreach ministry, said with no power, food and most of their belongings ruined, she decided to make the drive to Orlando with two sons, a daughter, a 2-week old grandchild, and a 7-year-old granddaughter.
“The heat was so awful for myself. [The 7-year-old] began to get sick and the baby. So we had to leave, it was urgent,” she said.
Currently, the family is staying at the TownePlace Suites by Marriot in downtown Orlando.
“We’re hoping and praying that we can get some help. We don’t want to have to live in our vehicle,” she said. “We need help to stay there until we can find another place.”
The devastation from the storm left millions without power and entire homes turned into piles of rubble. While survivors are leaving the state in seek of a safe place to land Central Florida volunteers are headed into the disaster area bringing help.
“A lot of debris still on the side of the road, a lot of trees were down. When we got to Hammond that’s when we saw most of the affected areas,” Vlad Gonzáalez, a U.S. Marine veteran said.
The 44-year-old drove about 700 miles from Kissimmee, Florida to Hammond, Louisiana with a truck full of donated supplies for an initiative called Kissimmee truck 4 Louisiana.
“The community response was, if I were to describe it, overwhelming. There were so many people coming, so many--there were people that came twice,” González said.
His journey started Saturday afternoon and by Sunday evening the goods had been dropped off for distribution.
“I always fly a U.S. flag in the back of my truck ... It symbolizes hope. It symbolizes the true spirit of the American people,” the Marine veteran said.
In 2017 while living in Los Angeles, Vlad said he was also part of the Los Angeles truck for Houston after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city.
“I want not only to be a truck from Kissimmee to Louisiana, I would like to be Orlando truck for Louisiana, Miami truck for Louisiana, Gainesville truck for Louisiana, Jacksonville truck for Louisiana,” he said. “I would like people to see this and I would like for them to copy this model.”
The cost for renting the truck, gasoline, food, and hotel accommodations were made possible by Gonzáalez and other organizers. They said they hope to continue their mission.
To help with expenses, a GoFundMe page was set up. Anyone who wants to help can make a donation here.
Anyone who wants to help out the Farrior family can reach out to Sidney Farrior at 985-500-5595.