Gulfport Man Makes Quick Relief Trip To Florida

Disaster relief is flowing into Florida, as the state continues the slow recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Charley.

Among those helping the storm victims are agencies and individuals from South Mississippi.

A Gulfport man just returned from a relief trip to one of the areas hardest hit.

Nolon Saucier says good samaritans from other states are quick to offer help whenever a hurricane hits here. That's why he didn't hesitate at an opportunity to extend some kindness to the storm victims in south west Florida.

Saucier headed to Florida in a truck loaded with water and baby diapers.

"Charlotte County emergency operations wanted us to come directly to them. They were set up at the Punta Gorda airport. And that's the shots that everybody saw the next morning. That's the first things everybody saw were the airplanes that were upside down, crushed," Saucier said.

"We didn't start seeing the damage until we passed Sarasota. We made the turn inward and that's about 30 miles from Sarasota to Punta Gorda. And at that point we crossed into Charlotte County. And it was devastation," he recalled.

"There are a lot of mobile home communities right there. A lot. And the majority of those had damage. And there were several that had flipped over out close to the interstate that had blown out of the park and were demolished."

The agency most associated with disaster response was busy organizing supplies and personnel even before Hurricane Charley hit Florida. The Mississippi Gulf Coast chapter of the Red Cross has already sent two people to help out and several others are on standby.

"We have volunteers all over the country that are reacting. And that's part of what we do all year long is train those volunteers so they can react when times like this come about," said Red Cross director, Oscar Barnes.

Longtime coast residents understand the assistance going from South Mississippi to hurricane damaged Florida, could just as easily be flowing the other way.

"Oh, it gives you a good feeling. But think of how many times they've been to us. You know, we need to repay that. And that's why we did it," said Saucier.

Oscar Barnes says those wanting to help the hurricane victims in Florida can do it by making a donation to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.

The toll free numbers is1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-435-7669.