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Tampa company's workers help Ian-ravaged community recover

Josh Heuchan
Volunteers from FloodGate Medical in Tampa put tarps on a hurricane-damaged roof of a home in Suncoast Estates, North Fort Myers. People from the recruiting company in Tampa have devoted several days of work in Suncoast since Ian hit in late September.

A Tampa company's staff has adopted a community in North Fort Myers as a place to help hurricane victims.

Volunteers FloodGate Medical, a recruiting company in Tampa, bonded with people in Suncoast Estates, even though 120 miles separate the two locations, and company employees and even some of their relatives are helping Suncoast recover.

Hurricane Ian damaged or destroyed some of the older mobile homes in Suncoast, often called the world's largest trailer park. A few people are living in tents or cars, weeks after the storm.

 "We talk about being blessed to bless others," Josh Heuchan, founder and CEO of FloodGate Medical, said. "Putting other people first and improving lives. And this is part of it."

Heuchan said his brother told him about the destruction in Suncoast, so about a dozen FloodGate employees and their relatives have devoted several days of labor there. They have cut up fallen trees, supplied generators when there was no power, at put tarps on roofs of more than a dozen homes.

Suncoast is a lower socio-economic area in Lee County, but some residents don't mind the attention from high-powered businesspeople from Tampa.

"We're feeling special because of that help. They are helping a lot of people by cleaning up stuff and everything."
Suncoast Estates resident Rosely Lucas

"We're feeling special because of that help," Suncoast resident Rosely Lucas said. "They are helping a lot of people by cleaning up stuff and everything."

Josh Heuchan said he is not concerned about Suncoast's past or its reputation. He says his volunteers love the spirit of the residents.

"We go to where the help is most needed," Heuchan said. "We don't worry about the past or present. We know that their future can be bright."

Heuchan said FloodGate Medical may return to Suncoast to help with rebuilding. And he added that volunteers plan to come back to serve meals at Thanksgiving, and help with toy give-aways at Christmas.

"We know there is a lot of pain and suffering out there, so anything we can do to show God's love, and help people get through from one day to the next, we're all about that," Heuchan said.  

For more photos of the FloodGate teams at work in Suncoast Estates: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UYEWrw3UdphKeZwn9

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Forty-one-year veteran of television news in markets around the country, including more than 18 years as an anchor and reporter at WINK-TV in southwest Florida.