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Local friends mobilize massive effort to help Keys residents

Posted at 7:30 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 19:53:31-04

It's a story of fishermen, helping fishermen.

A group of local friends are pulling together to gather as many supplies as they can for the people suffering in the Florida Keys.

“I knew right away from day one these guys needed our help," said Bryan Connely, owner of Connely Fishing in Royal Palm Beach.

He's also the brainchild -- along with his two friends -- of a massive effort underway to help their fellow fishermen and others in the Florida Keys cleaning up from Hurricane Irma. Connely -- along with George McNally and Gill Strelec Jr. -- have spent years fishing and enjoying the beautiful waters of the Keys.

“It’s as bad as people sleeping in tents down there with nothing. No electricity. Lost their jobs. And that’s really what kind of spurred me to get involved," Connely said.

With a little help from social media and some flyers — the mission quickly took off. They're only on day six of the effort and have already collected and sent at least 10 tons of supplies.

After several different companies and other locals approached Connely with partnerships, about 30 different donation drop-off locations have been established from Broward County all the way north to St. Augustine.

“It’s turned into having a mind of its own and a heart of its own and yeah, we’re just here to help," said McNally, CEO of Right Hook Enterprises.

Literal tons of supplies have been collected from water to diapers and food. A GoFundMe account created for the effort has helped bring in donations and streamline the supplies needed for residents.

“There’s people who lost everything. I have several captain buddies where they lost their whole livelihood," said McNally.

Donations go beyond what’s practical. With residents being inundated with donations, items like food and clothes are no longer the priority.

"There were some people that went through Andrew, went through Katrina and some other hurricanes -- and instead of bringing the traditional bottles of water and Gatorade -- one guy brought a whole a case of chainsaw oil, people are dropping off two stroke oil. Some brought bug spray because they knew how bad the bugs were after these hurricanes with the standing water," said Strelec Jr., owner of Gill Media. “Yeah, you gotta eat and drink but the stuff that comes after the storm you gotta think about as well.”

The effort is now shifting to collecting more supplies to help rebuild homes and businesses.

“They need building materials, roofing nails, extension cords, chainsaws, labor," said McNally.

With more partnerships steaming in, Connely says they plan to continue collecting donations for weeks to come -- until needs are met in the Keys.

“It just blew me away how everyone in the community stepped up, many of them perfect strangers, just putting their two cents in to help these people in the Keys," he said.

See the flyer below for locations and the supplies needed for Keys residents:

 

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