Justin Ferrell loads more donations onto a trailer while on his way from Nebraska back to Key West. The Ferrell family from left, Sevanah, Kirra, Nolan and Justin, had to evacuate their home of Key West for Hurricane Irma, so they came to the Midwest where she's originally from to stay with family while the rebuilding process starts.

Midwest Hearts

Generosity overwhelms Key West resident sheltering here

Hurricane season isn't anything new for those living on the coast, but over the past month as storm after storm has battered parts of the United States and the Caribbean, it seems as though this year's hurricane season has tried its hardest to pull communities apart. 

Luckily, that couldn't be further from the truth. 

Wayne native Sevanah Ferrell, daughter of Charna Mrsny and Frank Mrsny, has lived in the Keys with her husband Justin for the past eight years.

This was the first hurricane the Ferrell's left for. 

"When the tropical storm was forming we joked about staying, that we were going to 'ride this one out' just as we had done in previous years, but as the projected paths had shown it was coming for Key West, we decided the best thing to do would be pack up and leave to keep our children Kirra (5) and Nolan (2) safe," Ferrell said.

The family drove north to Flagler Beach but soon realized that wasn't far enough, so they left the state all together and headed for a cabin in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the heavy rains were expected to cause mud slides and flooding where they were at so the family picked up again, this time for the Good Life.

While visiting family and seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains is fun, the couple couldn't shake their feelings for Florida.

"We made the smart decision to come and visit my family here in northeast Nebraska," she said. "But while we're here, the entire state of Florida is in devastation. It has been a pretty emotional time for us to be here and not there helping."

But Ferrell said, if she were being honest, there wasn't a lot they could have done until recently, which is why her husband headed south over a week ago, making his way back to the island they love to start the rebuilding efforts.

Before he left, she posted a status on Facebook telling her friends what the plan was and asked if anyone had non-perishable items to donate. 

The response was more than the couple anticipated.

"The out-pouring was overwhelming," she said. " I had an old friend from Lincoln who let her office be a drop off spot for people between Lincoln and Omaha. The two lovely ladies at Dairy Queen (Anita and Amanda) helped spread the word and before I knew it I had an entire trailer full of supplies that people have donated all over northeast Nebraska."

Ferrell went on to say, "What a humbling experience and I hope that someday I am able to give back to my community as much as my hometown community has given to me.  I cannot thank everyone of you enough for helping us help our island!"

Ferrell's husband took off for Florida, making stops to pick up even more donations from Tennessee, North Carolina to southwest Florida.

According to Ferrell, everyone they know was willing to help their efforts.

Ferrell, who stayed here with their children, has been bouncing from Wayne to Lincoln where the majority of her family resides.

"We are between Wayne and Lincoln spending as much time as we can with our family. The kids have a lot of cousins here that we're trying to get some quality time with."

Ferrell said that according to her husband, it will still be quite some time before it is safe and ready for them to return to their home. In the meantime, he's working hard to get that done for them.

A recent announcement by the Key West Chamber of Commerce has everyone optimistic: The City of Key West is open for tourism. The official opening date is Sunday, Oct. 1. 

Ferrell said that people visiting the island she fell in love with will make all the difference, specifically to those who rely on the tourism for their income, like their family does.

As a charter boat captain for Good Times Key West, Ferrell's husband's job is entirely reliant on folks visiting. 

"What we really need now, is for everybody to come back down to the Florida Keys! We are a strong community and we will rebuild and we hope to see your smiling faces as you all are our livelihood," she said. " I am excited to go back home and continue my island living and loving and I hope to see you all there." 

Ferrell encouraged those who donated to plan a trip to Key West.

"Come boat like a local and let us give back to you what you all have given back to our community."

The Wayne Herald

Mailing Address:
114 Main Street
Wayne, NE 68787
Phone: 402-375-2600

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