It’s a regular hot Florida afternoon on Marco Island. A group called the Marco Island Patriots are hard at work, moving some of the supplies they’re shipping up to the Florida Panhandle as relief goods for the victims of Hurricane Michael.
“It’s a lot of logistics work that you don’t imagine, organizing donations from not only citizens, but businesses and private entities as well, but we’re committed to helping them just as much as they did for us during Irma,” said Erin Milchman, one of the primary organizers for both donations and communications during outings.
A true non-profit, they established just after Irma last year and have dedicated themselves to doing what a lot of people don’t have the resources or the guts to do.
Captain Ron Hagerman and Matthew Melican had previous volunteer experience having worked relief efforts after Harvey, and Irma was no different. Relief and supplies are the first thing people need after an emergency.
“We spent 6-10 hour stops chainsawing and lumber clear roads when we were doing emergency response for Michael. It didn’t matter how hard it was, people needed help,” Melican said of the recent work after Hurricane Michael.
Delivering gas, goods and literal freedom to the people most in need of it, they had even retro-fitted a nursing homes generator. The gas piping had been shredded and the generator had been shifted off its base, but with a couple of hours work, they had the facility up and running with its 60 seniors and staff.
“Information and communications have often proven key, during Irma we rallied many of the residents to the Zello app on their phones and our facebook group. We kept up to date, accurate news reports going out consistently and had over 458 residents accounted for just on Marco,” Milhman said.
The second of two box trucks headed north is being sorted, inventoried and loaded. Everything from food to toys to bleach. Everything is needed, even household goods you wouldn’t expect.
Home Base is the Lazy Flamingo for the next few days. Organizing the donations and trucks is an all-day affair, but as soon as they’re loaded, they go to people who need it.
“It’s a lot of work, but there’s nothing more satisfying than helping people out, especially in this dire a situation,” Melican said.
Donations are still needed, and the crew will be manning the Crazy Flamingo until further notice, at least for the next few days during regular business hours. If you’re on the island or even near it and you want to help, reach out to them on the Marco Island Patriots Facebook, or go on down and see what you can do.
The Crazy Flamingo
1034 N Collier Blvd unit #313
Marco Island 34145