56 Houston, Irma arrived, and incredibly, almost simultaneously, all our Houston contacts told us that they were receiving help from all over the country and we should help people in Florida. Irma came — And, for the second straight year, Boca and Delray Beach came within a few degrees turn of a direct hit… but the Florida Keys were not so lucky. Other areas of Florida were affected and HOT sent hundreds of thousands of dollars of supplies to west and northwest Florida, but the Florida Keys suffered unimaginable devastation. The picture of Big Pine Key to the left was taken in late October—almost 2 months after the storm hit. On the trip to the Keys when we took this picture we saw American Red Cross Tents, Pup Tents, and spoke to a child living with her uncle and aunt and cousins in a house that pre-storm had 4 occupants and now had 17 occupants. We met her at the Marathon Middle School/High School where of 640 students before the storm only 600 still lived in the Keys after the storm. Of the 600 remaining, 200 were homeless (living in American Red Cross Tents, pup Tents, FEMA hotels or a friend or relatives’ homes). Their homes were blown away or so devastated as to be uninhabitable. 97 of the 200 had nothing. What do we mean by nothing? We mean NOTHING. The clothes on their back or what few possessions they brought with them when they were ordered into the shelters and came out to find NOTHING. The school worked with us and got us the shoe, pant, shirt, skirt, underwear etc., sizes of all 97 and over a 3-week period HOT got all 97 full wardrobes in the exact model #s and colors they lost. Manufacturer’s for no charge, job lotters at prices they couldn’t have made money on and then an incredible group of women who took shopping lists for adoptees they would never see, and then HOT bought whatever was missing at “discounted” retail. There is no way to describe the look on the faces when these kids got bags that were in some cases as tall as they were and too heavy to lift. More than $180,000 in supplies that HOT paid less than $45,000. It is now March and we are still feeding hundreds of people in the Keys. Their disaster is far from over. And then came Maria – Not the beautiful Maria in West Side Story – but a vicious storm turning off all the lights in Puerto Rico and destroying virtually all of the electric and telephone service. Donors immediately gave supplies and HOT found transport by private planes, commercial planes and ships. We got satellite phones down within days so people (with a 5-minute time limit) could call family in the US to tell them they were alive. We sent shipping containers of goods, we bought food and water in San Juan and had it trucked to areas where there is still no fresh water. As electric was restored to the Florida Keys, we shipped to Puerto Rico the generators we received from donors or we bought for the Keys, and had them each delivered with a large can of gasoline and gas cards to nearby operating gas stations. There is not enough space in the HOT News to describe the work done by, or name, the approximately 1,500 volunteers that made all of this happen, but there was one volunteer, with an incredible book of contacts, who worked tirelessly, coordinated all parts of this effort, and without her there is no way HOT could have helped so many people. So, for the tens of thousands of people HOT helped, let me say THANK YOU to Summer Faerman!