AFSCME Florida Steps in to Help Member Who Lost Home to Hurricane Irma

It is often said that a tragedy can bring families closer. For far too many Floridians, including many AFSCME members, Hurricane Irma has resulted in a rebuilding effort that will take weeks, even months, to put their lives back together.

For Stephanie Rohling, a Department of Transportation weight inspector and member of AFSCME Local 3104 in Punta Gorda, it has resulted in the loss of her family’s house. But it has also resulted in her becoming closer to her AFSCME family.

“I’ve never felt so much caring and support from people who I barely have known and have so much things they are going through as well,” said Rohling.

Having just signed her membership card five months ago, Rohling said she, her husband and their four children have been overwhelmed with the attention that AFSCME Florida staff and her fellow members have given her.

The state council is helping Rohling access various resources, getting her information and providing her family with gift cards for clothes and other necessities that can’t wait for the recovery process to be complete.

“This whole experience is just surreal but knowing there is someone who will always pick up my call and who will be reaching out to make sure we are ok, you can’t begin to put a price tag on that,” she said.

Her family, who evacuated to her in-laws’ home where they are still at today, is waiting for an insurance adjuster and FEMA to determine exactly happened and what their coverage will be but she suspects that her home and property were damaged by one of the many tornados that are commonly part of a hurricane’s arrival.

Two of three storage sheds were severely damaged but a third was untouched. The chimney was blown off along with the shingles on the roof and trees were blown over onto vehicles. And their broken windows, instead of being blown into their home from hurricane wind, was scattered across their yard like the force came from inside.

With the windows gone and the roof damaged there was nothing to stop the rain.

“When we checked out the damage you could literally squeeze water out of our couch,” she said.

But, with all that is going on in her life, Rohling has not quit serving her community. Once the weigh station on I-75 that she works at reopened a couple days after the storm, she was back at work.

“I know my job is important because if we can’t process trucks coming through than the economy cannot recover, we cannot be there for motorists in need, it means life it not getting back to normal,” she said. “And it helps me get back to some normalcy too.”

As Rohling works to rebuild her life, which includes pursuing a degree in business management supervision in her spare time, she knows her AFSCME family will be there the whole time.

“I know AFSCME is working for me just as hard as my husband and I are working because if when my life is put back together our family is a little stronger.”

To help AFSCME members like Stephanie Rohling recover from the recent hurricanes please contribute to the AFSCME Fallen Heroes Fund by clicking here.