A small band of locals are still donning respiratory masks and forgoing their daily lives to help Flagler Beach recover from the destruction left by Hurricane Irma. As the flooding receded, it created mold — some cases easier to spot than others, but all generating hazardous living conditions.
Scott Fox and Paul Chestnut own Tortuga’s Kitchen & Bar in Flagler Beach. Eric Cooley owns 7-Eleven a block away on A1A. But they haven’t been to work since before the storm hit.
“We kind of took it upon ourselves to protect our community,” Fox said.
While those three have lived here for years, Russ Warner, the fourth member of their volunteer group, only moved to Flagler Beach six months ago. Yet he still feels compelled to help. Warner lived through the “Great Flood of 1993” in Missouri, and so he knows the devastation flooding can cause. Fox said he has been essential to the group's cleanup efforts.
Some residents have been unwilling to leave their mold-covered homes, so the team has knocked on over 100 doors to console each resident individually and help them recover.
“You can’t just stop until everyone is taken care of,” Chestnut said.
It’s taken a toll on their minds, though. Fox said he has trouble sleeping now, as he thinks about the residents — some of whom have lost everything — crying on his shoulder.
“That’s been the biggest challenge for us: the mental concept,” Fox said.