JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A St. Augustine man is relieved his father is OK after his dad was stuck in his Mexico Beach home due to debris and flooding from Hurricane Michael.
Ron Reinhardt traveled to Mexico Beach over the weekend to bring his 79-year-old father, John, back to St. Augustine. A response team located John after the storm on Oct. 11, but the younger Reinhardt was not sure how his dad was doing because he hadn't spoken with him since Oct. 9.
Reinhardt left Friday afternoon with the charity group Helping Hands, which is helping families affected by Michael. His personal priority was to find his dad, who is diabetic, and bring him back to St. Augustine.
Photos taken above John's home before and after the storm show the man's home is still standing, but trees surrounding it were wiped out.
"It was quite the adventure," Reinhardt said. "A lot of trees down, severely damaged neighborhoods, power lines down. Stood in line for almost two hours to get gas."
After not speaking to his father for days, Reinhardt said he feared the worst. As soon as he arrived at his dad's home, he ran toward the front door of John's house.
"(I) screamed his name and he stumbled out of the living room," Reinhardt said. "He didn't look too well. He hadn't been eating, he didn't have much food and water.
John's truck was heavily damaged, which Reinhardt said happened when his dad struck a fallen tree. His father spent two nights in his truck before returning home after attempting to evacuate.
"How he even got back to the house, I have no idea. He’s running on fumes and ran himself out of gas," Reinhardt said. "His blood sugar was very low. He hadn’t checked it. I don’t think he could have made it any more than a couple of days."
John is recovering with family in St. Augustine and won't return home to the Panhandle for at least two weeks.
Helping Hands brought in about 500 workers to assess the damage.
Not everyone is able to go to the disaster zones to look for their loved ones. Reinhardt was already a trained volunteer.
If you're trying to locate someone after the storm, you can register online with the American Red Cross.
If you or someone you know needs assistance from Helping Hands, call 1-800-451-1954.
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