STUART, Fla. - Some helping hands reached far beyond the Treasure Coast this past week. Eight Martin County volunteers, mostly Sheriff's Department employees, returned Sunday from a tornado cleanup effort in Henryville, Indiana.
Deputies and workers at the Martin County Sheriff's Office are used to being on the front lines. When the cry for help went up in tiny Henryville this month, the Sheriff's Office chaplain helped lead the call to duty.
Chaplain Bryan Irvine picked up home fragments in the middle of devastation. He said he was shocked to see massive trees "twisted like toothpicks."
Irvine and seven volunteers will never forget what they experienced. "Whole homes just totally blown off the cement pads," said the chaplain.
Two tornadoes hit Henryville in early March. They were part of a chain that cut a 1,000-mile path from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico. Fourteen deaths in Indiana alone were attributed to it.
"Just being able to serve and being able to help," is what the chaplain said he found fulfilling.
Their volunteer spirit and service meant everything to victims.
"There was a corrections officer that we went and helped that had lost a son a year before, and their home just a few days prior," said Irvine.
They mended a corral for rescued horses and organized relief items in a warehouse. Irvine says the hard work and 34-hour drive made him better at his day job.
"Appreciate what I have and help me to realize that there are people all around me, every day, that are hurting, that need help," said Irvine.