ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A St. Petersburg fishing captain returned home Wednesday after dropping everything and rushing south to help the victims of Hurricane Ian.
“It was supposed to hit us, so that kind of tugged at my heart. It could have been us and it wasn’t,” said Captain Ryan Harrington, as he fought back tears.
Captain Harrington teamed up with fellow fishing guide and friend, Captain Jamie Hough, who appeared on Master Chef, and now runs the nonprofit Southeast Rescue & Relief.
“We went to every grocery store in town, basically got all the food we could, and headed straight south to Fort Myers,” Captain Harrington said.
The group with Southeast Rescue & Relief took truckloads of supplies and set up a food truck and a smoker in a vacant parking lot in one of the hardest-hit areas.
The group worked around the clock and pumped out more than 5,100 hot meals for first responders and those who lost everything.
“Everybody has to eat, so serving those meals, it keeps them going,” Captain Harrington said.
The devastation from Hurricane Ian is still tough for Captain Harrington to talk about.
“I’ve been in a bubble without power, which I don’t know if the news is showing it or not, it’s miserable. I’m not in the military, I’ve never been at war, but it looked like a war zone,” he said.
Wednesday morning the group learned the power was being restored at the restaurant next door, so they decided it was time to pack up and head home. The group no doubt provided a glimmer of hope on the long road to recovery.
“The fact that the power is on, that’s when we decided to make the call because they need the money,” Captain Harrington said.
Captain Harrington got home just in time, his wife is due with their second child on Monday.
“Our baby’s due in four days, so fingers crossed, at least I got back here and we’re close to hospital here in St. Pete now,” Captain Harrington added.
To help Southeast Rescue & Relief click here.