Pinellas group starts 'Operation Float' to help Hurricane Irma victims

By Katie Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, October 12, 2017, 6:12 AM EDT

A Pinellas County-based nonprofit group formed in the wake of the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 is hard at work again this year, providing long-term relief for victims of Hurricane Irma.

  • "Operation Float" established in 2016
  • Group reactivated following Hurricane Harvey
  • Group working with local businesses to serve as collection sites

One month after Hurricane Irma hit the Tampa Bay area, many families are still struggling. But thanks to a nonprofit group based in Pinellas County, help for those families is on the way.

"All of us were tired of being on the sidelines, tired of being people who commentate on something rather than react and do something good," Operation Float leader Michael Dacosta said.

"Operation Float" was established last year following the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Members collected supplies and provided meals to the people of Orlando.

In 2017, the group reactivated after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

"Imagine you're working in your regular everyday life, socializing and everything then you wake up and there's no electricity, no water, no food. People's lives have been ruined," Dacosta said.

Just weeks later, disaster struck in their own backyards when Hurricane Irma slammed the Sunshine State. But, that didn’t stop or slow them down.

"For eight days I was without power," said Wanda Jones of Love Light Ministries. "But even in the midst of our own setbacks, people were still excited and continued to give to others."

Since Irma, "Operation Float" has collected truckloads of donations and distributed supplies to families all across Florida. The group has also recruited local businesses in the area to serve as donation collection sites.

They have verified stations all over the state, and have had items shipped down to Puerto Rico to help those impacted by Hurricane Maria.

"Putting people back together, I think, is the most honorable thing you can do, and if you do it with a good heart, I think that's important," Dacosta said.

“Operation Float” is hosting several fundraisers to help with long-term relief. For more information, visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/operationfloat/.