2017-09-07 / Front Page

County gears up to help hurricane victims

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Two Glen Lake graduates who are brothers by blood and their profession have been helping victims of Hurricane Harvey in southern Texas for the past week.

Meanwhile, thoughts are shifting to evacuations for Hurricane Irma, which carried with it winds of 185 mph when it reached Puerto Rico yesterday around noon.

Brothers Dillon and Kole Rosa, both Benzie County Sheriff’s deputies, left Friday bound for the flooded area of Houston. With them, they hauled the Benzie Sheriff Department’s airboat which they put to good use within minutes of arriving Saturday in Vidor, Texas, six miles east of Beaumont.

“They had two minutes to unload the boat and were off with two medics to save a person in an attic,” their mother, Amy Rosa, said.

Sunday the brothers used their airboat delivering supplies to people who did not want to evacuate their homes. They also toured the area with the mayor of Rose City, Texas, to assess the hurricane’s devastation.

Another day, they escorted staff members from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, touring the damage. The Rosas also came across a family who had just moved into a brand new house less than three months earlier only to have it flooded with about 4 feet of water.

“They saw our Michigan Sheriff badges and were excited to tell us they were huge Michigan football fans,” Dillon Rosa wrote on their Facebook page. “The boys wanted a picture and the family was in tears when they found out our mission was strictly funded by our community.”

In the evening, the brothers traveled the area using the airboat on loan.

Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel gave the Rosas permission to take the boat and a department SUV to help with search and rescue efforts.

Amy Rosa has collected about $5,000 to date to aid in the effort.

“Once their costs are covered, the remainder will go to a family they had contact with in Vidor,” she said. “They’ve done a lot of work and made lifelong friends.”

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

A young girl to whom the Rosas delivered water during a welfare check, made a “thank you” card of sorts on cardboard, writing “love you” in red.

“These folks had basically nothing left,” Dillon Rosa wrote. “They were very appreciative of our presence and even brought us some of their limited cold waters.”

Grateful residents expressed themselves on the Rosa’s Facebook page.

“We appreciate everything y’all are doing,” Tonya Veazey wrote. “Thank y’all from Rose City, Texas.”

Locally, the Leelanau Community Church in Lake Leelanau will host a barbecue from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday with cash donations going to relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Harvey and Samaritan’s Purse for flood relief.

Elsewhere, local residents with ties to south Florida, are warily watching Hurricane Irma as it barreling toward Puerto Rico as of press time yesterday. The storm, a Category 5 with winds of 185 mph, is expected to lose intensity, before reaching landfall.

Jon Lewis of Maple City spends his winters in the Florida Keys. He’s concerned for his friends and neighbors there.

“They are scrambling to try to get their charter boats off the islands,” Lewis said. “They are preparing for the worst and fear what we have talked about for years.”

Just last week, he was discussing the devastation of Harvey with a friend.

“She said, ‘Could you imagine what would happen to the Keys if we got something like that,’” Lewis said. “Well, it’s not just imagining anymore … It looks like the nightmare reality may come to fruition.”

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