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Backyard tent community still growing months after Hurricane Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Remember Shelly Summers? She’s the woman who created a tent community in her backyard for displaced Hurricane Michael victims.

Summers said, “Over 50 people and I’ve had 18 families reach out to me just since last night that are coming.”

“I am seeing things come together… I’m sorry… and it’s been a lot of hard work. But we have machines coming in now, we have FEMA, we have more people coming in to try and help and get people in safer situations than in tents,” said Summers.

Volunteers of all ages from all places have descended on Summers’ backyard. One group on Thursday came to build a new invention for the tent residents–hard shell tents that can withstand up to 90-mile per hour winds.

Brittany Pitts, who lives with her children on Summers’ property, said, “To see so many people helping six months later… usually help kind of ceases after a few months so, you know, it’s definitely a gift that people are still willing to help so much.”

Summers says residents of her tent community had no other long-term living options. She said, “The other homeless shelters are short-term, we know this, and the FEMA trailers have pretty much been already claimed and they have applied and they’ve been denied.”

Pitts said, “It’s like a family. Sometimes it’s a dysfunctional family because we do have our disagreements with all the different personalities but, I mean, it’s been the biggest blessing that could probably come from this storm.”

Still, running a tent community comes with sacrifices. “The time it takes away from my family, but it’s worth it to me,” said Summers.

Despite all of the attention and messages Summers received, she says she continues to do this for one simple reason. “Somebody has to help people, it’s the right thing to do. It’s a community thing and it should be a community thing,” she said. Proving there is still kindness in this world… or even just in a backyard.

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Post time: Apr-10-2019
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