Such was the case last month when scores of volunteers, laborers, and businesses showed up to help the recovery effort at Camp Wingmann, which sustained thousands of dollars in damage from Hurricane Irma when it passed over Central Florida Sept. 10-11.
Irma knocked down power lines, ripped up trees, smashed roofs, and flooded properties and buildings throughout the state. A powerful hurricane that first hit the Keys as a Category 4 storm before losing speed and hitting Florida a second time as a Category 3, Irma caused nearly $63 billion in damage to the islands and the U.S.
Camp Wingmann, a camp and retreat facility in Avon Park, sustained some of the worst damage among the almost 90 churches and ministries in the Diocese of Central Florida. But parishioners, volunteers and businesses far and wide came to the rescue in the restoration effort.
The huge facility, which has been a welcoming place for decades with its summer camps and spiritual retreats, lost about eight large oak trees, two large pine trees, half of a building, roofs, and walls, according to the Rev. Deke Miller, Camp Wingmann director. The camp also lost power and had no running water for a period of time.
In response to the damage, Miller organized back-to-back workdays on Sept. 16 and 23. “We had two amazing workdays,” Miller said. “On both those days, Rev. John Motis and Todd Motis brought out heavy equipment and a lot of manpower to help with the heavy tree-cutting and cleanup. We also had 30 volunteers from around the diocese come out to help on the 16th and about 10 or 12 on the second Saturday.”
The Rev. Canon Tim Nunez, Canon to the Ordinary, and other board members came out to help, along with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, who helped Todd Motis arrange for a work crew of inmates to finish cutting small limbs and picking up debris. Volunteers worked from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both Saturdays.
Miller also said Marsha Ward of Ward’s Nursery and Debbie Barber provided a lot of labor help for the cleanup. “They hired a work crew to come out during the week on two different occasions to rake and clean,” Miller said. “The five-man crew worked two 10-hour days and did an amazing job raking and hauling away the small bits. Marsha donated the cost for one day, and Debbie Barber donated the cost for the other day.”
The assistance helped defray some of the damage costs, which are estimated to be in the thousands. “We also had to do repairs on the well; the pump wiring took a power surge,” Miller said. “There is substantial damage to the Retreat House roof, and two porch roofs on cabins. We lost carpet due to water intrusion on the east side of B-Wing in the Lodge and in the living room of the rectory.”
Currently, Camp Wingmann officials are in the planning stages for the reconstruction of the Lake House and are trying to get some weekend events going, Miller said. But for now, Miller is grateful for the support the retreat received.
“I am in awe of the response that we have received in the way of physical and financial help at the camp,” he said. “I cannot thank all of our volunteers who drove from all over the diocese to come and work. We have a way to go as far as the buildings, and it will be pricey, but the outpouring of love and support for the camp is simply awesome!”