By Stacey Bomser
The worst of times has a way of bringing out the best in people. That was certainly the case here in Weston before, during and after Hurricane Irma.
While the number of “hurricane heroes” is enormous, and everyone has a story to share, several Weston residents truly embodied the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors.
Thomas Dougherty went above and beyond, lending aid in Weston and all around South Florida. In the days before the storm, he helped install hurricane shutters on more than 35 homes of friends and neighbors. The former military medic was also called to duty, helping stabilize a broken leg until paramedics arrived after someone was injured making storm preparations. He also stitched up the hand of a friend who sustained a deep cut after the hurricane. In addition, Dougherty aided in the clean-up efforts and helped drive around his Savanna neighborhood taking pictures of the damage for the homeowner association.
Dougherty, who hails from the Volunteer State (Tennessee), says he is a huge advocate for volunteering. “I have a heart to help people,” he shares. “I believe in the true power of positivity and good karma. If you do good then good things will happen.”
Grateful to have power after the hurricane, Inga Ivan turned to the Facebook group “Weston and Beyond” to invite those without electricity in Weston to come to her home in Savanna, where she was serving coffee for adults and ice-cold popsicles for kids. For those who stopped by it was a respite from the heat and a chance to make new friends, especially for the children who enjoyed the unexpected playdate.
With school cancelled following the hurricane, a group of teachers from Indian Trace Elementary School and Cypress Bay High School volunteered at Century Village in Pembroke Pines, passing out hot meals and water to the residents who had no power.
Fifteen-year-old Janelle Naylon was moved by the hurricane devastation, particularly in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Seeing people who lost their homes and all their belongings made me want to take action. The whole island was flattened and looters were stealing from the stores.”
Janelle organized a donation drive, putting notices in neighbor’s mailboxes, to collect clothing, bedding and medicine to send to St. Thomas. Her collection was flown to the island by PriceSmart Miami.
With gestures big and small, Weston residents proved this community comes together in the time of need.