October 13, 2017 -- Millions of people watching television broadcasts throughout the world saw hurricanes Harvey and Irma as causes of unimagined destruction and hardship in regions of Texas and Florida.
Ron Tyree, a senior test engineer at Leonardo DRS in Huntsville, Ala., saw them as opportunities to help. Joining forces with the Movement Church in nearby Madison, of which he is a member, he spearheaded an effort to collect and deliver much-needed donations and supplies to both areas more than 1,000 miles from his home in northern Alabama less than a week after each storm. Donors included Huntsville employees.
A U.S. Army veteran who had served for several years in Texas at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Tyree first helped to fill two box trucks with personal items, toiletries, cleaning supplies, infant and toddler products, water, pet food and paper goods for shelters and homes in the Houston area. Then he drove the 1,530-mile round trip to help deliver them.When Irma battered much of Florida shortly after Harvey struck Texas, Tyree hit the road again, this time for Jacksonville, a 1,050-mile round trip. He plans return trips to both states. His second journey to Florida will take him to hard-hit Key West, a 2,000-mile round trip.
“After seeing our own devastation in North Alabama after the tornadoes in 2011 and knowing those folks in Texas and Florida had nothing left, it was an easy decision to make,” he said. “I will continue to help any time I can.”
Tyree witnessed destruction on a vast scale in both states.
“The biggest thing we encountered was damage due to flooding and the fact that so many people were so tired from non-stop work and worry,” he said. “At the point we were there, things were and still are truly devastating. The hope and motivation some of these folks showed was nothing short of amazing.”
Perhaps the human quality that impressed him most was a selflessness he found among everyone with whom he spoke.
“Everyone we had the opportunity to talk with was so very humble,” he recalled. “It was always about someone else who got hit harder, and what they could do to help. And their appreciation of what we were doing was huge.”