Local heroes stepping up to help flood victims in Tampa Bay

Volunteers are gathering supplies and ferrying them to victims in Valrico.

VALRICO, Fla. -- It didn't rain a whole lot, if at all Wednesday, but flooding was still a big problem in the Valrico area.

The Alafia River has swelled over its banks, leaving an entire neighborhood underwater.

Neighbors in the area consider themselves to be river people. Exceedingly proud. Exceedingly self-sufficient. In fact, some of them would consider themselves preppers - folks who are prepared for Armageddon.

Except, every now and then, Mother Nature deals you a blow that you just can't prepare for.

“Water is a dangerous thing. Mother Nature, you never now,” said Ashley Simpson, whose house had taken on water.

Simpson isn't the kind of person to ask for help. She usually gives it, she says. But right now, she needs it. 

“I got some shoes, I got some jeans, I got a couple of shirts. We got some dog and cat food,” she said, sifting through tables of locally donated goods and clothing.

“I said, 'How can you not come?' There's just a lot of need here,” said Leda Eaton.

Within 24 hours, Eaton’s organization called "Seeds of Hope" had gathered enough diapers, clothes, food and drinks to support a small city.

An incredible outpouring of generosity. And modesty. 

“You know, I am one person. But, I really represent all the people. If I could get them in front of the camera, and I could be behind and that's the way I would do it. Because I can't do it by myself,” said Eaton.

To help get the supplies to those who couldn't get out of their homes, locals like Eric Burkett have been stepping up by spending the day shuttling people through the high water in pick-up trucks. 

“They need it. It's a community. And, you know, everybody's going to join together to help everybody out. It's all we are - we are one big family,” said Burkett.

It’s another example of how, in neighborhoods like these, when the tide rises, there always seem to be those people who rise to the occasion right along with it.  

“Thank you, it's appreciated a lot,” said Simpson, “If we can get back we will give back. Always.”

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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