KENNETH CITY, Fla. - One man pulled up the side of his T-shirt collar to wipe the sweat beads dripping down the side of his face. He was nearby as 10News interviewed his neighbor, Monica Zoellner.
Zoellner’s voice began to shake as she explained, “I’m aggravated because I’m a nurse and I can’t even take a shower to go to work … Last night, I spent nearly $200 for my son and my two dogs to just have some relief. To go someplace to get air conditioning so they can get a hot shower, get a hot meal.”
Stranded. That’s how residents in one Avesta Madeira Grove building in Kenneth City, Florida described their situation – no power since around 1 a.m. Sunday morning.
It’s not like that for the whole complex. Still for the ones affected, people were dealing with what felt like 90-degree temps in their apartments – a mother with spoiled medicine for her sick child because she didn’t have a freezer or ice to keep the medicine refrigerated.
That’s what made one woman respond, Dena Baker. She saw that mother’s post on Facebook asking for help.
The young mother says she called the Red Cross but was told there’s no room at the nearest shelter. Many neighbors were complaining of not being able to find a reaching hand from FEMA or the complex’s management company, which we’re told closed its offices.
Baker went to the complex on Thursday to help the young mother and saw the greater need. So she contacted 10News on Friday, which got in touch with the St. Petersburg Clinic.
The result: neighbors hugging one another and crying.
In tears at the kindness, Daniel Serrano cried as he said, “Thank you guys so much for coming, I appreciate it you know.”
“We’ve been without any electricity since Sunday, 11 o’clock in the morning and the office before the storm (even) hit, they grabbed their stuff and took off and you guys are the first time they come here and offer some help,” said an emotional Serrano, “and these people are tired. They’re hot. There’s kids here, they’re hot. There’s even elderly people that are hot. We’re suffering.”
In a show of support, at least two other trucks came out after the St. Petersburg Food Clinic left.
Instead of taking any credit, Baker congratulated all of the volunteers.
She humbly told 10News, “I thought, you know for the ‘Least of These,’ you know. I’m Christian and I believe that God has called us to help the ‘Least of these.’”
Then on Friday night, after some calls by 10News, Taco Bus sent their food truck out and fed the residents, who hadn't been able to prepare meals since the electricity went out Sunday.
The gesture moved one resident to near tears.
"I don't see FEMA, and I don't see the Red Cross, but I see you guys," she said.
And other people are coming by to help, leaving food donations.
10News did quickly talk to a member of the management office at Avesta. We were told they did provide assistance and that a barbecue was being planned for the apartment community when the power is fully restored.
The manager would not provide any other details.