Last week, Florida was devastated by a monster storm  that  destroyed  parts of the Caribbean  before closing in on nearly all of the Sunshine State. From  Jacksonville to St. Augustine to Fort Lauderdale to Miami to the Florida Keys to Marathon to Naples to Fort Meyers to the Panhandle - no one, it seems, was left without damage.
Today, nearly 30 percent of Floridians are still without power! And, rising waters of the Santa Fe River are threatening to shut down I-75 from Gainesville northward. Hurricane Irma is long gone but it will take a long time before she is forgotten. In her wake, communities are shattered but not broken. All 32 Florida United Ways have been in constant contact with each other about ways we can help one another rebuild. At least 13 United Ways have established local emergency funds and the United Way of Florida (UWOF) has resurrected the Florida Hurricane Response Fund. This fund, managed by the UWOF, will assist all Florida communities impacted by Irma. One hundred percent of the contributions will be used exclusively for hurricane relief and NO administrative costs will be taken by United Way.
In our own community, we have been in touch with agencies we support to gain an understanding of how the storm is impacting their daily operations. We've shared their updates with you on social media and we will continue to advocate for them during this time of rebuilding. Our region was not without damage and impact: from the communities in Otter Creek who still need fresh water to the hundreds of hungry children whose backpack program was briefly halted by the storm, we are UNITED in our effort to help each other get through this.  
Bottom line: Irma reminded us that we have everything to gain when we choose to #LiveUNITED.
Please read our special issue for ways to help.
Deborah V. Bowie, CCE, IOM
President & Chief Executive Officer

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