BOCA GRANDE, Fla. – Anyone who has ever been in a disaster situation has the wherewithal to know what to do when it is safe to check out their surroundings. Many people were in that boat on September 28, 2022, the day Hurricane Ian winds and rain forced their way through every nook, cranny and crack in the buildings of Southwest Florida and into our collective memories.
There were many memories made during that time – some good and some bad – but the ones that stand out in many people’s minds are of the people who helped so much.
This tale is about just two of those people who made such a difference in so many lives. They are real estate agents Kevin Hyde and his wife Nancy, who are known to many on the island.
When the Hydes left for Georgia just prior to Hurricane Ian hitting our area, they had no idea what they would find when they returned. They had given the use of their house as a shelter to two of their friends who live in a very low-lying area. Once they found that their home was damaged but still standing, they started setting up their camper, which they had taken to Georgia, as their living quarters.
There was no pondering over what to do next, because Kevin and Nancy take care of everyone in their lives without a second thought.
They started with their neighbor, setting up a generator between their houses to run refrigerators and fans. Then they got in the truck and went from house to house on the island, checking on their existing and past clients.
“We secured homes and basically did what we could to help,” Kevin said. “However, it quickly became clear that the most desperate need was not on island but off, so that’s where we turned our focus once our initial work was done.”
For the next several months their day started at daybreak, beginning with a drive up to Dearborn Street & 776, where there was a reliable cell signal. From there they were able to communicate with fellow trustees at the Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund, of which Kevin is chairman, to get funds out to as many people as they could as quickly as they could.
“We distributed roughly $1.5 million to families in need,” he recalled. “I also communicated with Mormon Helping Hands and Samaritan’s Purse, international aid organizations that came to the area to assist. My role with them was to coordinate not only their setup and local resources, but to bring them what I knew to be those most in need as applications for aid came in. From there, I would head out into the community to deliver essentials to those most in need, which was a challenge. Everywhere I looked there were people in desperate need of supplies and a helping hand.”
While Kevin did lead a number of crews of volunteers, mostly from Florida Realtors working on behalf of Mormon Helping hands, the volunteer pool eventually dried up. He then joined forces with Samaritan’s Purse. By this time he no longer had a crew of his own and was suffering from a back injury sustained in a car accident prior to Hurricane Ian.
As he put it, “Running solo was not possible.”
It was hard for Kevin to watch the crews do the hard work of disaster cleanup. Everything from muck out to drywall repair, roof tarping and tree removal was necessary, but Kevin realized he was not of much help in those fields at that time. He turned to doing what he does best – ministering to the people who had lost so much, in so many other ways.
“I became the guy who, with a truck-load of supplies and tools, would get out there and find those who had fallen through the cracks and provide them with their immediate needs,” he said. “We worked with not only the Mormon groups and Samaritan’s Purse, but also FEMA and other groups to get supplies and start paperwork.”
Through his network at Florida Realtors, Kevin got several truckloads of supplies and tools for distribution. He made sure that a load was set aside for Little Gasparilla Island that included generators, chainsaws, fuel, food, water and other essentials. They purchased a load of “Bagster” dumpster bags for Little Gasparilla as well, to aid them in getting the debris off the island to the county site for collection.
“I did my best to focus on island workers in need, so they could return to work and their lives as quickly as possible,” Kevin said. “Every few days I returned to the island to check on my listings that were badly damaged and provide owners with updates.”
This is when Kevin and Nancy were able to start to take stock of what was really going on in their professional life.
“It never occurred to Nancy or myself what impact this hurricane would have on our business,” Kevin said. “We immediately went to the aid of others, while many in our field stayed focused on their business. I’m quite proud to say that as a company, Parsley-Baldwin was right there with us, helping those most in need. Most of our fellow agents did the same. In doing that, though, we fell way behind in marketing and getting listings to sell. Since Nancy and I work together, she was able to assist with some listings and to facilitate communications.
“My listings remain to this day unrestored, but the work is finally underway, so there is relief in sight.”
While they have had a tough year in business due to making the choice to assist others, Nancy and Kevin agree that they would not change a thing.
“We both have servants’ hearts, and serving others in need is what brings us personal fulfillment,” he said. “That said, we sure hope we don’t have a big disaster this year … we have a bit of catching up to do.”
According to many, the real estate market both on and off island remains challenging. A few agents, Realtors and brokers have had some success since last September; it seems to be less about a good market and more about the type of listings being sold.
The good news is that undamaged properties that are listed for sale, or those minimally damaged, quite often have several offers and have seen big numbers at closing.
Homes that have sustained damage, on the other hand, aren’t selling as well. Construction and restoration crews are trying to catch up, but many people don’t even have insurance money yet to pay those crews. Right now, it seems that homes that were not damaged or have been completely restored are fetching above the asking price.
In short, this will be a real estate market to remember for those who have made a career in that business
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