FORT MEADE, Fla. (WFLA) — When disaster struck, Jennifer Camp missed her father.
“My dad was the fixer of any and everything that happens not only at our childhood home but at all the homes,” she said.
Her father, Andrew, passed away last year.
His memory was the first thing that crossed Camp’s mind when, in September, Hurricane Ian caused the ceiling to collapse on their Fort Meade home.
“This is the home that I grew up in and just to see the devastation was just so disheartening,” she said.
When the ceiling collapsed, it allowed rain to pour into the home. In the weeks since, mold has set in.
Camp, without her father to guide her, went to the city of Fort Meade, asking what help was available.
“Typically the city will take care of your common areas of the city or rights-of-way, the roadways, things like that. But we really are not allowed to typically go onto private property and help out residents,” said Jan Bagnall, Fort Meade city manager.
Enter: Team Rubicon.
The city helped Camp get in touch with Team Rubicon, a national group of volunteers that respond to natural disasters that provide recovery services free of charge.
“We utilize the skills that we have gained in our civilian as well as our professional lives in the military and EMS, fire, and police,” Valerie Desio said.
The team helps tarp roofs, clean up trees. The “muck out team” removes debris, drywall, and damaged floors and ceilings.
A 30-person group from Team Rubicon arrived in Fort Meade the first week of October, serving Hurricane Ian survivors in Polk and Hardee Counties.
Other teams are dispatched in Charlotte, Lee, Volusia, and DeSoto counties as well as Puerto Rico.
“We have a bias to act and when we’re sitting around and we see a storm hit we want to help the people. We want to help them get back to their normalcy. This is the worst day of their lives. They could have lost everything,” Desio said.
To request help from Team Rubicon, call 863-410-0028.
Bagnall, the city manager, said Team Rubicon has helped expedite cleanup in his city.
“We would probably not be able to catch up with a full cleanup of the city for many, many months because a lot of residents don’t have the capabilities to go ahead and bring in a tree service to help take out the trees,” Bagnall said.
On Thursday, the “muck out team” was clearing Camp’s home to get it ready for contractors to come in and start the rebuilding process.
It’s work that Camp does not have to worry about or file insurance claims to pay for.
They are also removing prized possessions, including Camp’s father’s pocketknife collection and her late brother’s funeral plaque.
“[They are] caring enough or sympathetic to know that we’ve lived here forever and [say] ‘here are pictures and personal property that is sentimental to us’,” she said. “Their assistance, it has just been phenomenal. They have done more than I could have even imagined or expected.”
To learn more about Team Rubicon, visit teamrubiconusa.org.