COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - A South Florida nonprofit dedicated to helping people with disabilities is working to assess significant losses suffered during Hurricane Irma.
A major cleanup is underway for Harry Horgan, the co-founder and president of Shake-A-Leg Miami, but he said there is still a long way to go before getting back to normal.
“We’ve spent 25 years building this,” said Horgan. “The community has funded this, and then to see it all just crushed up here, it felt crushed.”
The Coconut Grove-based nonprofit works in partnership with the City of Miami with a focus on helping children and adults with disabilities, along with wounded veterans, find independence on the water.
Horgan said Irma’s winds and rain were simply too strong for the equipment. They had no choice but to leave it on the water.
“Hurricane Irma really smacked us hard,” said Horgan.
Parts of the dock are in worse shape than others, but Horgan said, it will have to be replaced entirely. He and the rest of those running Shake-A-Leg don’t know how many of the boats will be saved because they’re still assessing the damage.
Most of the boats in the non-profit’s fleet were secured in their Coconut Grove hangar, but others, like nine specially designed handicapped sailboats and four power boats, were wrecked.
The extensive damage has moved people who have been touched by the program.
“It’s heartbreaking to see what has happened here today, and I think that Harry — I think they need help right now,” said J.B. Diederich, whose children have participated in Shake-A-Leg for years.
Diederich and her children are looking to organize a group to come out and help with cleanup and repairs. The outpouring of support has also come in the form of donations on a GoFundMe page that raised more than $4,500 in one day.
People are also lending a hand so Shake-A-Leg can keep moving. “If the hurricane hadn’t hit us on Saturday, there would be about 30 kids with disabilities down here and about 100 able-bodied kids, high school kids participating in our program,” said Horgan.
Those activities are on hold as there is still a lot of work to be done. Horgan’s goal is to be back serving the community in the next few weeks.
“We want to be the place where people can come and feel strong and get strong and feel like they’re doing something positive,” said Horgan.
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