As Irma cleanup begins, Gainesville neighbors pitch in

Published: Sep. 11, 2017 at 6:19 PM EDT
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Alachua County is seeing some serious damage after Irma as downed trees and power lines clutter the roads. As emergency crews work to clear it all out, some people are taking it upon themselves to help their neighbors.

We may be dealing with tropical storm force winds, a shortage of gas and water, and emergency services are as busy as ever. But there is no shortage of kindness in Gainesville.

Ashley Tomberg isn't worried about storm damage.

"Some dents, some scratches," Tomberg said. "A couple little holes in my roof but there's nothing I can do about the holes, so."

She's too busy helping others.

"I saw the tree come down. Simple solution, grab a chainsaw and get to work," Tomberg said.

Right as Irma started to die down, her neighbor's worst nightmare came true.

"Everybody was just in the living room talking about how you know we'd made it through the worst of the storm I guess," said Evi Rodriguez, who lives in a home across the street from Tomberg with her parents and her two children.

"It sounds a little bit crazy but my mom had a dream a few days ago before the storm even hit that the house had been damaged and that we were living somewhere else," said Rodriguez.

A tree split in half and crashed through their roof, breaking a water line. Emergency crews stopped by, but had to move on to more life-threatening calls. So all day the five-year Army veteran and her family have been clearing debris...

"You make sure people are safe," said Tomberg. "And you know once we get this roof safe we're gonna go across the street and clear the next house."

And storing their belongings while they look for somewhere to stay.

"We have amazing neighbors who came and started cutting the tree off the roof," said Rodriguez. "Trying to help us get everything together and get everything that is important out of the house."

Amazing neighbors... Who put their neighbors first.

"Everybody deserves help. Everybody," said Tomberg. "And people need to realize that. You just do what you're supposed to."

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