PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — At Charlotte Sports Park Thursday, volunteers distributed hundreds of tarps and cleaning supplies to local residents, equipping them to better prepare for potential future storms.
The event, organized by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), drew a long line of more than a hundred cars, with residents patiently waiting to receive their free tarps and buckets of cleaning supplies.
Many residents, expressed their reliance on the tarps as a timely temporary relief while they await insurance settlements.
Jawed Siddiqi, a North Port resident, shared, "It's about four times that I've already changed the tarp because the insurance settlement is not going anywhere, so it's going to help us a lot."
For others, the supplies serve as a precautionary measure to have on hand in case of future hurricanes.
Kenneth Kent, a local resident, emphasized the importance of preparedness, saying, "It's a good thing to be prepared, so if you can, get down here and get the supplies." Another resident added, "Hopefully, we won't need to use them, but it's great that Charlotte County is providing this for us so we can be ready."
The event took place from 4 - 7 p.m., with supplies distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The volunteers assisting in the distribution are part of CERT, which often plays crucial roles in post-disaster scenarios, including working as shelter staff, call center operators, and organizing outreach events like the one held today. Over 400 volunteers are part of the CERT program, and more than 30 of them showed up to help at today's event.
Mike Muscat, a CERT volunteer and retired fireman from Michigan, expressed his desire to give back to the community, saying, "This is the first actual event that I've attended, so I really don't know what to expect here. I'm hoping to give back to our community."
In addition to the physical supplies, Project Hope was also on site, offering much-needed mental health resources to those affected by the aftermath of hurricanes. The event aimed not only to provide immediate assistance but also to offer support for the emotional and mental well-being of the residents.