Bess Darrow couldn’t recognize a Florida Panhandle horse farm she’s been to more than 20 times.
Darrow, a Williston veterinarian of Tune Ups Veterinary Equine Services, assisted her client of 15 years whose property was wiped out. When she visited Sunday, she saw the barn was gone, trees were knocked down and a horse trailer had flipped onto its roof.
“I was intimately involved,” Darrow said. “I was so scared to see the destruction, or my friends sad or destitute.”
Darrow and others from Gainesville have come together to provide relief for residents in devastated areas of the state that were affected by Michael, which hit Florida last week.
While Darrow has been checking on her clients’ horses and making sure they had water, she has also raised more than $10,000 through a GoFundMe page. The money will go toward hay, water and feed.
Darrow said she was shocked at how willing people were to help in the aftermath of the storm.
“So many people stepped up to the plate,” Darrow said. “I’m so in awe of these people because of their cheerful attitude. They’re so thankful for one gas can.”
Local churches, such as Anthem Church, Shift Church and City Church, collected donations and sent a 24-foot trailer with water, fuel, gas, canned food, diapers, formula and hundreds of $25 Visa gift cards, said Jon Birkmire, director of family ministries for Anthem Church.
“Helping others is a good core of what we want to do — for us, it’s a no-brainer,” Birkmire said.
Abby Zachritz, the director of communications at Shift Church, said volunteers went to the area Tuesday to remove fallen trees and clear roads.
“We have to make changeable steps, because if we just sit and pray we can’t make a physical change, but God gave us hands to go help.”
Nareth Meth, the owner of Cilantro Tacos, said he provided free food for first responders in Chattahoochee, Florida. He and his wife gave away about 1,000 tacos to emergency medical technicians, police officers and Gainesville Regional Utilities linemen Saturday.
“I was happy to do it, and I’d do it again,” Meth said.
Nihir Patel, a 21-year-old UF computer science senior, said he will follow in the footsteps of his friend who raised money for Hurricane Irma by taking headshots from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday on Turlington Plaza for donation to hurricane relief.
Birkmire said he remembered how other communities united to help South Florida following Irma.
“It’s our time to pay it forward,” Birkmire said.
Members of Anthem Church partner with Concept Companies to fill a 24-foot trailer with donations of food, water, fuel and other resources to be delivered in the Panhandle.