This story is written by Red Cross worker Louis P. Palm
Bruce Johnson is a young retired 77 year old who was caught in one of life’s surprises.
In late June 2012 Bruce was traveling north from Pine Island, Florida to visit family in Georgia. Along the way he camped at various scenic sites. One of those was the banks of the Suwannee River in the vicinity of White Lake, Florida.
On the evening of June 25th Bruce settled in for a third night of rain from Tropical Storm Debby. It was this evening the tent started leaking and Bruce retreated to his vehicle for shelter and a night’s sleep. As he settled in he noticed the river was 15 feet below his camp site. During the evening, Debby drastically changed the situation.
Bruce woke to find water lapping at the door of his Jeep. Deciding he should get out of the area he soon found driving out was not an option. He called the local law enforcement to let them know his location and grabbing his computer and cell phone, Bruce headed for dry land. Soon the water was up to his chest and instead of walking out, the seventy-seven year old was forced to swim to safety.
As the police arrived Bruce climbed an embankment and escaped the flooding Suwannee. Following treatment by emergency medical personal and a short visit to the local emergency room Bruce was taken to the American Red Cross shelter located next to the hospital. With the exception of medications and the remains of his computer and cell phone, Bruce lost everything.
On Monday July 2nd, Bruce was able to renew his driver’s license and start making arrangements for his immediate future. During his stay at the shelter Bruce witnessed the growth of the operation from limited staff members serving many clients to a well run comfortable environment where the residents are safe and receiving their immediate needs of shelter and feeding.