Skip Love and Aine McGarrity threw away a lot of things from their St. Joe Beach home that were ruined by Hurricane Michael.
The roof fell into their bedrooms, and five feet of water filled up the inside of the house.
“You could see where everything was just totally destroyed,” said Jeff Moore, from St. George Island, kingpin of the Forgotten Coast Parrothead Club.
Moore and wife Allison know how bad it was because on the second Saturday after the storm, they drove over to see what had happened to the couple, a pair of the 74 active Parrotheads in Franklin and Gulf counties.
“Because of where they lived, we strongly suspected they had it rough,” Moore said.
“They were in the front yard, washing clothes on the picket fence in the front yard,” he said. “The place was just totally devastated.”
Love had gone to a neighbor’s during Michael, but McGarrity had stayed. At one point, she told Moore, the water was rising and so she climbed out a window and on to the top of golf cart that had been chained to the house.
“She rode the storm out on top of the golf cart,” Moore said.
In the process of collecting the wreckage of their belongings, the soaked clothes, the sodden books, they found several of the medals bestowed Love’s father, the late Harold C. Love, Sr., for his service during World War II.
Upon his death 37 years earlier, in Sept. 1991, an American flag draped his casket, and after the funeral embodied the honored memory, in the family’s home, of the son’s namesake.
“Skip was in the service at the time, overseas, when he was notified of his death on some mountaintop in Greece,” said Moore.
Like so many articles of clothing that had to be quickly discarded, the fabric of the flag was marinated in muck. “The flag was all kind of shades of green and yellow,” said Moore.
The Moores offered to take the flag and have it cleaned and pressed.
Once completed, they arranged with Commander Tony Almon, the instructor over Port St Joe High School’s Naval Junior ROTC, to return it properly folded.
Following the Nov. 10 Veterans Day service in St. George Island Lighthouse Park, in which the unit posted the colors, the youth conducted the proper ceremony. Wesley Chapman narrated the explanation for each of the folds, while Haley Hardy, Brian Lindsey and Nicola Valenzuela handled the task with the sacred fabric.
Love and McGarrity had to miss the ceremony, because they were picking up a motor home in which they could live, in the front yard of the property where their home was lost.
Another Parrothead member bought a cherry flag case, placed the flag inside, and returned it to its rightful and grateful owner.
This small gesture to preserve a large symbol is part of the two-year-old Parrothead Club’s active community service mission which so far in 2018 has logged more than 2,000 volunteer hours from its members, along with more than $5,000 raised for the Alzheimer's Association, and over $11,000, in conjunction with the St. George Island Civic Club, for those in Eastpoint whose homes were destroyed in the June Lime Rock Road fire.
Their latest effort, in conjunction with the Apalachicola Bay Rotary Club, is a Hoodies for Hurricane Kids project., in which a $10 donation buys a child a winter hoodie and a warm fleece blanket.
“So many kids have lost so many things,” said Moore. “Winter coats may be something they need.”
For more information visit the Forgotten Coast Parrot Head Club on Facebook.