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Group of felons rebuild man’s home destroyed during Hurricane Michael


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    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Time has passed but for a lot of people, the damage has stood still. That’s because a lot of people haven’t gotten the help they needed, or just couldn’t afford to fix up their homes.

A group in Tallahassee are trying to help out someone who’s had especially bad luck since Michael.

People tend to come together to help out their neighbors, like they’re doing in Jackson County at the Spirt of Jackson. They’re celebrating just how far they’ve come since the storm ripped through their community.

For one man, he’s celebrating the date a different way: Volunteering to help another who’s pain reaches far beyond the destruction that came with Hurricane Michael.

For one Tallahassee family, tragedy struck just days before Michael hit last October.

“For hours, her screaming: ‘My back, my back!’ She became paralyzed from the waist down,” said Ira Rowe.

Ira Rowe’s wife Elizabeth took a bad fall. She ripped a muscle in her spine that left her paralyzed.

“When something like this first happens, you don’t get much of government help,” Rowe explained. “They put you on waiting lists after waiting lists.”

So instead of waiting, Ira stepped in to become his wife’s nurse instead.

“Fed her, cleaned her, everything,” Rowe said.

On top of everything came Hurricane Michael.

“It was scary,” Rowe said. “It looked like the whole house was going to split in two.”

A tree fell on their home, leaving a hole in the roof and a burden the Rowes just could not afford to take care of.

“We needed so much. We needed a wheelchair ramp, other things,” Rowe said. “Some infrastructure for a paraplegic. It wiped out our savings. “

Ira started remodeling apartments to make extra money. He was forced to quit after he stepped on a nail and got MSRA.

“His wife was dying so he didn’t really focus on him, he was focused on taking care of his wife,” said John Cajun.

Cajun spent nearly nine years in prison. He’s now on a mission to give back to his community.

He met Ira through his church’s Bread Ministry. It’s a program that offers food and other services to people during difficult times.

“After his wife died, he came to us for some counseling and when he didn’t come back we did a home check,” Cajun explained.

They found a home that never recovered from Hurricane Michael.

The hole in the roof was never fixed. The floors were rotted. The front door was missing.

John knew he had to step in. He’s now part of a group of people who have spent time in jail, former addicts and teenagers committed to giving Ira his home back.

“I really thought I was going to die. but I prayed to God for guidance and help and everything just started happening,” said Rowe. “I don’t know how.”

For Cajun it’s all part of God’s work.

“I wake up every morning and I ask God where you working and where can I join in? And these projects come to me,” said Cajun. “I don’t look for them, they just come. But when they do, I respond accordingly.”

“All these people helping me right now. God sent them. I didn’t know them,” Rowe said. “I didn’t call and ask them for my help, they just came.”

Rowe actually hasn’t been able to see the progress they’ve made on the home since he’s been in the hospital so long. But he’s really excited to come home to see all the work when he’s released at the end of the week.

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