Retired Air Force Chief Angel Ortiz came home at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon from babysitting his three grandchildren and found more than two feet of standing water in his back and side yard on Raider Lane in Navarre.
Editor's Note: We do not normally post this much of a story online, but because of the timeliness and because most of these young people are displaced Taco Bell workers, we are making an exception. However, there are additional details that only the thousands of smart subscribers who receive the paper on Thursday will get. Also, please click "view more images" at the end of the article.
All of the retention ponds near Navarre High School were full after days of heavy rains, and rainwater was running though Ortiz’s yard from the woods behind his home that he bought in 2005. “It has never flooded like this,” Ortiz said. He had experienced some standing water after a heavy rain in the past, and had truckloads of dirt added to his yard. Ortiz had flood insurance for the previous six years, but accidently let it lapse this year. “I can get it now, but it won’t go into effect for 30 days,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz sprang into action, headed straight to Navarre Lumber and bought some sandbags, then started filling them himself when he realized that he probably shouldn't be physically exerting himself due to his three heart attacks and seven stints in his heart. His neighbor and Navarre High school student and football player, Aiden McGuire, came outside in the rain to help. McGuire's grandfather also came over to help thier neighbor. Ortiz then called a young man he had just met the day before who was helping his daughter move, Damian Adams. Adams started texting his friends that also had worked at Taco Bell, and a few others.
When Ortiz returned from going to the fire department to pick up more bags to fill with sand and a moving truck from Dan Meredith at Outback Storage, he saw seven young people, six of which were still in high school, filling sandbags. “I almost broke down when I saw them, they were a lifesaver,” Ortiz said. They worked through the rain until 6:30 p.m. to make sure Ortiz’s home was as protected as possible. “They didn’t even know if they would be moving me out of my house or filling sandbags and they were happy to do whatever needed to be done," Ortiz said.
When Ortiz met them in front of his house after the last sandbag was filled and placed, he was thanking them over and over and telling them what a difference they made. “Hey, don’t mention it, this is what community is about,” Adams said. All of the young people told Ortiz that if the water got in his house, they would be back to help move his belongings into the Outback Storage moving van.
The young men and women in the picture who helped Ortiz sandbag were, from left: Aidan McGuire, Austin Mitchell, Angel Ortiz (thumbs up) behind neighbor Everette Alford, Arlyn Hizon, Damian Adams in back, Corrianne Avezac and Meagan Clark.
al·tru·is·tic [al-troo-is-tik] adjective: 1. unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others.