Stories from the Field: Carey

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Carey turns away from my camera, shy for a moment.

I previously wrote to you about Sam, and I promised you you’d get to hear more about him.  Don’t worry; you will.  But before I give you his story, it’s important that you hear about his neighbor, Carey.  I think Carey is an important example of why listening is important.  He’s the very definition of an unsung hero, the type that would never let you know their involvement if you didn’t pry.

You see, Sam doesn’t really remember much of Carey’s involvement in his story (Sam had a head injury, so that’s excusable), but as we were helping him clean out his trailer the Thursday we were in town, Carey stopped by and offered his wheelbarrow to help.  That could have been it.  That could have been all we ever knew of Carey.  But I listened as I thanked him.  “Well, I helped get him out of that trailer, the least I can do is see it through,” he muttered.

“What?”

Bit by bit, Carey pieced together his own story for me as he told me enough of Sam’s to let me know I’d be spending most of my day listening.

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Carey points out where the trees that shaded his property used to stand.

Carey works in construction by trade to support his wife and children.  He is currently living in his home without them as he repairs it and makes it more suitable for them.  But more than that, he’s one of the unsung heroes of the recovery effort.  His property had once been quite shaded.  Its position on the main drag of their community made it ideal for relief support when hurricanes had come through.  He routinely made it available to first responders to set up their base camp in his yard area, and Irma was no different, except for the lack of trees… but he added an umbrella – the show went on.

Unlike Sam, who chose to try to weather the storm in his trailer, Carey had sought shelter at his boss’ concrete home on the other side of the island.  There, he experienced a part of hurricanes we don’t often think about: Tornadoes: several of them.  He said it was one of the scariest things he’d lived through, the home he was in amplifying the already terrifying sound even louder.  He wasn’t convinced he was going to make it through, but he did.  And when he got back, the cleanup process started all over again.  He worked diligently on it for the next several months.

We met Carey on January 10, 2018.  Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on September 10, 2017.  The day we met him was the first day he was able to return to work; the first time his particular skill set (owning and operating a backhoe) was needed – other than to save Sam, of course.  He spoke to me on his lunch break, but was eager to get back to Mangrove Mama’s where he was digging back out their grease trap, a good sign for this tourist-driven community.

 

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By the time we met him, Carey said he felt as physically recovered as he was going to be from this hurricane.  There was not anything more to do other than get his employment stable again.  When asked if he was planning on staying in the are for another hurricane season, he became rather thoughtful.  He was clearly brooding on the subject, but something tells me this won’t be the last the Florida Keys sees of Carey.

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Love and Peace,

Anne

As always, your questions and thoughts are welcome.  Leave us a comment below or email us here.

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