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Volunteers deliver sandbags to flood-prone Northside neighborhood

After Irma, Ken Knight Drive residents aren't taking Hurricane Dorian lightly

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Hurricane Dorian looms, some Jacksonville communities are on high alert.

Jacksonville's Northwest neighborhood on Ken Knight Drive is prone to flooding, as the Trout River runs along the community.

"We had a bunch of water up to here. Me in this boat, we had to go down these houses here and help the people out," said Alton Gordon, who has been a Ken Knight Drive resident for 52 years.

Gordon told News4Jax he went out in his 14-foot aluminum boat during Hurricane Irma, paddling from house to house as the storm was hitting to rescue his neighbors from their flooded homes.

His said some homes had at least 5 feet of standing water because of the storm.

"It may be low-income people, may be trouble, but it’s still also beautiful people out here that all just need a little help," Gordon said. 

He told News4Jax that that help is coming from Yellow House volunteers.

Hope McMath, the director of the organization, said the Ken Knight Drive community has been neglected for decades.

"This is a project that’s really about people power," McMath said. "It’s about people recognizing how to love your neighbor, even if that neighbor doesn’t live on your own block." 

Volunteers spent three hours shoveling 18,000 pounds of sand to fill up sandbags and they spent Saturday and Sunday delivering more than 700 of the sandbags to residents in this community.

McMath has spent time in this community working with residents to help them recover from the last storm. She said these neighbors have experienced loss and the trauma that comes with a storm.

"They are taking this very seriously, where some of the rest of us yesterday were, like, 'Oh, the storm is turning a little bit out,'" McMath said. "When a storm comes, the idea that they can go out and stock up for the storm ... They don’t have the funds to stock up for a storm. It’s a whole different situation here."

After Irma, neighbors experienced the fear of flooding again, as well as being trapped within the community without any resources. Now, Gordon is prepping his boat, just in case this area sees more flooding with Dorian.

Ken Knight Drive residents are asking for more help before the hurricane. If you would like to donate supplies, you can drop them off across the street from the day care on Ken Knight Drive.

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Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.