One chapter can always be counted on to help when a hurricane devastates nearby communities. Alpha Gamma Rho members understood the devastating power Hurricane Idalia was about to unleash on Florida and were there ready to lend a helping hand as the victims began picking up the pieces.

 Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on Aug. 30 in Florida’s Big Bend, where it destroyed homes, leveled trees, and flooded streets. The powerful storm left a trail of devastation across one of Florida’s agricultural production regions. Just three days later, nine Alpha Gamma Rho members were helping victims clear debris and collect their belongings in Horseshoe Beach, Florida, a small town that took the brunt of the storm.

The group comprised of Brothers Blake Beltz, Michael Williams, Doug Harrison, Bo Sub, Wesley Freeman, Brent Long, Braedon Raper, and Richard Doleson from Alpha Gamma Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, Florida, located 70 miles east of Horseshoe Beach. Alpha Gamma Chapter Noble Ruler Brother Blake Beltz, said the Chapter began preparing to help well ahead of the storm’s arrival.

The group arrived Sept. 3 with a tractor, chainsaws, and various lawn and garden tools at the ready. Despite the widespread destruction in one of Florida’s agricultural production regions, the men knew what they had to do. Brother Beltz said the Chapter has experience responding to natural disasters. 

“Last year we had done something similar with Hurricane Ian down in Fort Myers,” he said. “The Cattlemen’s Association had reached out to us last year about doing a hurricane cleanup on some ranches down south.”

 For two entire days, more than a dozen members helped several ranches in Lake Placid, Florida. Brother Beltz said one project made a lasting memory for the whole chapter. It was helping an elderly woman whose husband had been a member of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

“Her husband had passed away recently, and she was left at the ranch all by herself,” he said. “She just needed the help; it was nice to see how the agricultural community stuck together.”

 The experiences in south Florida prepared the Chapter to help Hurricane Idalia recovery efforts and recovery efforts in the future. Members learned a valuable lesson regarding the value of helping their community when it is most needed and were grateful to be able to provide some assistance.