Residents come together to fill sandbags
With Hurricane Irma rapidly approaching Florida, it was all hands on deck at the Lake City Public Works headquarters on Friday as local residents rushed to fill sandbags in preparation for the storm.
As people shoveled sand into burlap sacks and loaded their cars, it wasn’t just adults jumping into action. Several Lake City children showed up with their parents, ready to pick up a shovel and help get ready for the hurricane.
“We do what we gotta do,” said Adeon Farmer, a 13-year-old student at Lake City Middle School.
Farmer, who was taking turns shoveling sand with his friend Jordan Coppock, 20, isn’t just concerned about himself and his family when it comes to being in Hurricane Irma’s path. He’s also worried about his animals, including dogs, chickens and a hog.
“I have to move my animals to higher ground,” Farmer said.
At the next sand mound over, Lydia McAuliffe, 9, was helping her mother Tracy fill sandbags. Despite her age, Lydia was working, loading shovel after shovel of sand into a bag.
“I’d rather be at school,” Lydia said as she scooped up more sand.
School was canceled in Columbia County on Friday, so Tracy brought Lydia out to help fill sandbags and prepare for the hurricane. School has also been called off Monday and Tuesday.
Columbia High School student athletes and members of student government also assisted with filling sandbags on their day off.
Despite the looming threat and the hard work she was putting in, Lydia said she isn’t worried about Irma, and plans to spend Monday watching YouTube videos as the hurricane rolls through.
“I’m excited,” she said.
While Lydia is looking forward to the storm, her mother Tracy, who owns True View Window Cleaning, is focusing on getting ready. Having to worry about her family, her home and her business has led to Tracy being proactive when it comes to being hurricane proof.
“We get water in the back of our house so we wanted to keep it away,” Tracy said about getting sandbags. “We just have to be prepared.”
Another family getting prepared for the storm was the Medearis family. While Michael Medearis filled his sandbags, his son Chevy, 6, watched from the back of his dad’s pickup truck. Although he was too small to get up and dig, he wished he was able to.
“He won’t let me help,” Chevy said while pointing at his dad.
Although Chevy wasn’t able to help his dad, there were several people at the sand piles helping others in between preparing their own bags. Lake City’s Edward Kight helped Farmer and Coppock fill a sandbag before returning to his friend Austin Davis. The two men had a pickup truck fully-loaded with sandbags.
Although they did have some for themselves, they were mostly getting sandbags for people they knew couldn’t get them themselves.
“We’re going to pass them out to our elderly neighbors,” Kight said. “They just can’t come up here and get them.”
“They’re way too heavy,” Davis added. “If they waited in that line they’d be here forever.”
Lake City Public Works was not only providing residents with bags and sand to make their own sandbags — they also had piles of prepared ones, which they were loading into cars for people who needed assistance. The line for the prepared sandbags was about 15 cars deep, prompting those who were able to go to the self-serve station.
Sandbags are still being distributed today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They’re available at three locations: Columbia County Public Works (607 NW Quinten St.); Columbia County Fairgrounds (438 FL-247); and Fort White Community Center (17579 FL-47).