Irma survivors collecting supplies for those affected by Florence

Hard hit last year, Big Pine Key residents want to pay it forward

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A group of residents in Big Pine Key -- one of the hardest hit areas after Hurricane Irma -- are working to collect supplies to help people in the Carolinas affected by Florence.

People in the Florida Keys know firsthand what it's like in the days after a destructive storm, and they said they want to pay it forward after so many people came to their aid last year.

The residents, led by Lisa and Gino Miletti, plan to drive a caravan north on Tuesday. While the storm quickly weakened, Florence dumped massive amounts of rain on the region over the weekend, causing widespread flooding.

At a collection site in southwest Miami-Dade County, people donated essentials such as flashlights, batteries and cleaning supplies. They also gave small items with children in mind, along with boxes of toiletries and clothing.

“Going through Andrew as a youngster and going to help out for Hurricane Irma last year, we know the need, the immediate need, people have for these types of supplies – first aid, food, baby supplies,” said Sergio De Varona, one of the volunteers. “When you lose everything, you have nothing.”

Those interesting in donating items can drop off them off at 9491 SW 54th St. in southwest Miami-Dade County or contact De Varona at 786-486-0937. The group has also started a GoFundMe page to collect donations online.

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