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Veterans volunteering to help flood victims

Aaron Mesmer

Aaron Mesmer is a general assignment reporter for FOX 13 who is happy his road led him south. He joined the FOX 13 News team in March 2013.



Flood victims in Pasco County are receiving some much-needed recovery help from several volunteer organizations, including one that is made up mostly of retired military men and women.

Members of Team Rubicon went door-to-door in a mobile home park off Flaxen Drive in Port Richey, offering neighbors assistance.

“We’re walking through the community. We’ve identified the area and we’re talking to individual residents to determine

what that need is, what the scope of work is,” said Curt Harman, a team leader with the organization.

Harman served in the U.S. Navy for eight years, he then worked at the Department of Defense, before retiring in Wesley Chapel. He is among the retired service men and women, and emergency responders who work with Team Rubicon, a national organization that sends volunteers into disaster areas to help the most vulnerable victims.

Harman explained how experience overseas can help in situations like the one in Pasco County, where residents are recovering from record rainfall that flooded several communities, some of which are still partially underwater.

“It’s cohesive, it’s efficient. The second everybody shows up it organizes and people just start doing what’s needed to get the job done and make it a little better,” Harman said.

Neighbors were thankful to see Team Rubicon; their community had several feet of water during the peak of the storms, forcing emergency responders to rescue some of the residents.

“They just don’t stop do they? They’re pretty special people,” said Linda Besterfeldt, referring to the retired military members. “I’m glad that I don’t need anything right now but I’m happy for the people who are going to get the help from them because it’s important. It touches you and it’s a great thing to see.”

A total of six charities, including Team Rubicon, were organized by Volunteer Florida to travel to Pasco County to assist with the initial cleanup.

They’re focusing on working with the elderly, uninsured and people with disabilities.

“We just want to go out, meet these people who are in life’s ditches, help them get up help them along the way a little bit and get them in a place where they can start thinking about tomorrow,” explained Todd Taylor, a volunteer with Samaritans Purse, who was helping remove debris from a home in Holiday.

Volunteers expect to be in the area for at least a few days. At last check, there were more than 400 structures that were impacted by the floods, including 46 homes that were destroyed and another 32 that suffered major damage.