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"We know how to come back from a Hurricane, we know we have to build up and be stronger than ever."

Punta Gorda Grassroots group, The Park Warriors are picking up the pieces Hurricane Ian left behind one park at a time
Posted at 4:13 PM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 20:13:34-04

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — All around Southwest Florida, communities have been coming together to help rebuild and pick up the pieces of what was once beautiful after Hurricane Ian tore through so many communities, leaving devastation.

As the one-month anniversary of Hurricane Ian approaches, many communities are still picking up those pieces.

For some, like Jennifer Laramie, it was something she had to do, "What can we do to help the city to make this city more beautiful again, what can we do to help," Laramie said as she looked at a group of over 15 people who asked themselves the same question.

Four days after Ian, Laramie started volunteering in Punta Gorda, it was during her volunteering that she wanted to do more. So, he and her grassroots group, "Park Warriors," started going around the city, to help beautify what was once beautiful.

"When the community needs something, all they have to do is ask and we’re there nothing is too big or small for us," group member Darcy Hanley said as she proudly showed off her Park Warriors T-shirt.

On average, Laramie says 15-20 people were showing up for park cleanups after a friend got a hold of the city of Punta Gorda, and city leaders gave the Warriors a list of parks to go to.

That's when Laramie turned to Facebook to get even more help, "She had a Facebook page and she said this is where we’re cleaning and then everyone came here, without Jen, this couldn’t have happened," Hanley said.

Their last park was the Cooper Street Recreation Center, a three-acre area that serves the youth in the area.

In just an hour and a half and a lot of sweat, Laramie says they got a lot done, "We basically took care of three really large trees that were down, and now we can get all this stuff picked up, and hopefully, they’ll open up this yard area for everyone at some point."

Since Ian, The Park Warriors have cleaned up The History Park, Gilchrist Park, Laishley Park, Hounds on Henry Dog Park, Ponce de Leon Park, Pittman Park, and Linear Trail Walking Paths.

Hanley and Laramie say this isn't the last you'll see of the Park Warriors.

"We know how to come back from a Hurricane, we know we have to build up and be stronger than ever, so that's what we're going to do, kick some butt together."