© 2022 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Local News

'God Was With Us': Residents Pick Up Supplies For Sally Clean-Up

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

More than 300 people waited in line Monday morning at the Gulf Breeze Lowe’s for a bucket of free supplies for Hurricane Sally recovery. For many of the South Santa Rosa residents, the giveaway was a lifeline toward recovery. 

“It’s great, because everybody’s out of the cleaning supplies," said Rita McGartland after she picked up her blue bucket of supplies which included gloves, trash bags, and batteries. She said she was largely spared from the storm, with the exception of downed trees. "I have friends; we’re all sharing (supplies).”

A line of cars had already snaked around the Gulf Breeze Lowe’s parking lot well before the drive-up giveaway started Monday morning. Only 250 buckets were available. 

Karen Driggs, store manager at the Gulf Breeze Lowe’s, said supply giveaways are prepared for some of the hardest-hit areas after a storm. Seven other stores from Pensacola to South Alabama were also giving away supplies. 

“This is to help the community because the community heart of everything we do,” she said. 

Driggs said the store has been busy before and after Hurricane Sally hit the Panhandle as a nearly Category 3 storm. And customers who have been without power or access to resources have been grateful.

“What we hear is a lot of tears and a lot of thank yous,” she said. 

Several Lowe’s employees had been without power for days, which is why the company set up shower and laundry trailers at the store for employee use. The store has extended the use of facilities to their neighbors, Publix. 

Navarre Beach resident Michael Dopps said he had prepared for hurricane season with a generator and five canisters of gas, but was still unprepared for the historic flooding Sally would bring. 

“We had damage. Still have a foot and a half of water in our garage; struggling to get it out,” he said. “We have fish in our garage right now, that are starting to smell. There’s stagnant water and mosquitoes.” 

Perhaps the worst of it was when the electric sewer pumps when down. 

“The moment the electricity went down, we had human feces coming out of the manholes into our driveway,” said Dopps. “With all the building going on out there I’m pretty sure the sewer system is taxed.”

Credit Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media
A caravan of more than 300 cars lined up Monday morning for a bucket of clean supplies from Lowe's.

Jim Calhoun, lives just a half-mile from the bay in Gulf Breeze. He said Sally was his first major hurricane experience. He’s not a fan. 

“Terrible … it was the first and only hurricane I’ve been in and I would not suggest anyone be outside or near a Category 2. I can only imagine what a 3, 4, or 5 would be: very destructive.”

The Ohio transplant has been helping his neighbors who are in “bad shape.” And his supplies will be used to help them clean up. His home was largely spared.  

“We live just high enough we didn’t get any water. We had pine trees that went down — they didn’t hit the house.” 

“God was with us. That’s the only thing I can say.”