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Volunteers needed in Harlem Heights as daily storms return to Fort Myers

Crisis Response and Relief
Posted at 5:22 PM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-14 13:02:43-04

HARLEM HEIGHTS, Fla. — On Thursday, organizations like Crisis Relief and Recovery (CRR) were in the Harlem Heights community in Fort Myers helping families restore their storm-damaged homes.

“It's kind of scary,” said five-year-old Martha, who lives with her parents and her grandma in Harlem Heights.

Martha was translating for her grandma who only speaks Spanish, and said she was with her family when flood waters rushed into their home from Hurricane Ian.

“ The water was here and we were sleeping where the futbol,” said Martha.

Sleeping on higher ground, Martha told me overnight across the street at the Kelly Road Soccer Complex as they watched their entire neighborhood underwater.

Over two weeks since the storm and now Ethan Wendle and his crews from CRR were helping Martha's family remove everything that was lost.

“What we try to do first is identify the most vulnerable that have the greatest need and have been hit the hardest,” said Wendle.

Wendle, who is the Director Of Strategy for CRR
said there is no denying the community of Harlem Heights was hit hard.

On Thursday, Wendle said it's a reality that's leaving more families needing help than Wendle's has the volunteers to cover.

“The urgency is that mold is spreading, actively spreading and we are in the position right now if we don't get some stuff done, we are going to turn into a health crisis,” said Wendle.

Wendle said CRR handles everything from roofs to indoor restoration but what they need most is helping hands.

“These crews are muck and gut crews they are bringing stuff out of the house. these are things that almost anybody can do. It's not highly technical contractor work,” said Wendle.

It's work that–if not completed soon, could be made worse by the return of afternoon storms.

“But now that these rains have started back up, every day it's like another disaster because they clean up stuff in the house, then their roof leaks again,” said Wendle.

Wendle said walk-in volunteers can show up every day at the Harlem Heights Community Center at 9 AM and 2 PM.

The address is 15570 Hagie Dr, Fort Myers, FL 33908.

“Every day we will be starting teams to partner with our leaders with other organizations to get this community restored as quickly as possible," said Wendle.