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Women veterans group needs help fixing damaged ceiling ahead of Hurricane Dorian

The group worries the ceiling will cave in if Dorian were to make landfall near the First Coast.

The Northeast Florida Women Veterans of Jacksonville has been dealing with a severely leaking roof for quite some time now, but organizers believe Hurricane Dorian could make it completely cave in.

“There’s nothing we can do about it," said Dee Quaranta, the CEO. "We don’t have anywhere else to go."

Within Quaranta’s office stands a large trashcan filled with water, sitting underneath a gaping hole in the ceiling where it partially collapsed one night from the pressure of the standing water on the roof. Multiple pans catch miscellaneous drips around her desk to keep the wood from rotting and her laptop from breaking.

“My daughter walked in yesterday and said ‘are your guys waiting to have a potluck or something,'” Quaranta laughed.

The building is owned by the city, but the organization is provided free rent in exchange for community services.

Within the agreement, Quaranta says the organization is responsible for the upkeep.

The organization did have the roof serviced before, but now does not have the $17,000 needed for Thursday's extensive water damage, Quaranta said.

The organization provides training, support and referral services specifically for women who have served active duty and their family.

Long-time users and volunteers are afraid the leaks may scare away newcomers.

“Even though they have a need, people still have standards,” said Natalie Marcano-Sidberry, a Navy Veteran. “And the first time they’re coming in they’re like, ‘Oh my god, look at all of this going on, how are they going to help me?’”

Air Force veteran Sharleen Deary says she used to suffer from flashbacks from her service and the organization was her only hope to recover.

“This is my safe place," Deary said. "I always feel at home when I walk into these doors. What you feel before you walk into these doors, you don’t feel those same feelings when you leave.”

Although the organization does want its roof fixed, it doesn’t think repairs could be done in before Dorian hits. At this time, it is asking for any volunteers to come and help get water off the roof and lay tarps down.

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