Black Creek in Clay County experienced record flooding from Hurricane Irma. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office re-opened the creek to boaters, but advise caution because dangerous debris is still floating in the water and they are preparing for the possibility of more flooding with a Nor’Easter on the way this weekend.
One man elevated his cars on cinderblocks to prevent them from flooding, but when he returned after Irma hit, his vehicles were submerged under water near the creek. He’s one of many in the area working to get their lives back in order.
One group helped make that process a little easier. Local barbeque competitor Brian Coleman organized efforts overnight to help families right after Irma. He and his friend Jerrod Carter also made t-shirts with the words “#BlackCreekStrong." Sponsors stepped up immediately and paid for the meat and people started donating buns, condiments and utensils for sandwiches.
Students from the Oakleaf Football Team also came out to help. They cooked nearly 700 barbeque dinners then loaded them up in their trucks and drove them out to families working in their yards cleaning up hurricane debris. They say those shirts were added as a morale boost for the community.
“We do competition barbeque and one of the guys we compete against, good friends of ours, the Carter brothers, got hit pretty hard out there so me and Jerrod started talking and it seemed like within 48 hours we had a game plan,” Coleman said. “We had sponsors lined up to pay for meat, about 50 volunteers, 4 to 5 cookers.”
He said after seeing the damage to homes himself, he was inspired to spread that hashtag around.
“This is such a tight knit community,” Coleman said. “The t-shirts were a sign of unity for that community. I’ve seen a lot of pictures on the news, but to see it in person is different.”
There is a nationwide effort called Operation BBQ Relief that fed about 20,000 people across Florida after Irma. These locals wanted to step up and do their part.