Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay unveils new hurricane response distribution center

In the wake of storm damage from Hurricane Ian, Berta Quiles’ home in Tampa’s Forest Hills neighborhood needed a new roof. The cost was beyond what her family could afford. 

“It was a really bad position to be in,” Quiles recalls.

For help, they turned to Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, a nonprofit that renovates and repairs homes free of charge to make them livable, safe and healthy.

Thanks to a program that handles repairs from storm-related damage, the family was able to have the roof of their home replaced. 

“I’m really grateful for what they’ve done,” Quiles says. “It kind of leaves me speechless honestly.”  

Now, Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay has partnered with Atlanta-based nonprofit ToolBank, which loans tools to charities and community-based organizations, on a new facility that will help the response to future storms. On September 28th, the first anniversary of Hurricane Ian, the two nonprofits and other community organizations unveiled a 5,000-square-foot hurricane response distribution center in an East Tampa industrial park. The center will stock tools, drywall, flooring, plumbing and roofing materials and mucking and gutting supplies. It will also house trailers and response vehicles to provide a swift and effective response to neighborhoods in the aftermath of a storm.

The 5,000-square-foot space will also allow Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay to accept more donations of tools from the community. 

The facility opens as Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay and other community partners continue to repair homes damaged by not only Ian but now Idalia as well.

“The work is not completed but we will continue doing the work until we see every family impacted by this storm back in their houses while we also deal with another one, which is Idalia,” Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay Executive Director Jose Garcia says at a September 28th event at the new distribution center.

Since Ian hit a year ago, Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay and Rebuilding Together Central Florida have combined to rebuild 606 homes in 13 counties, with work on 74 additional homes currently underway. While free for the homeowners, the combined cost of the work is $3.9 million. More than 5,000 volunteers have helped the effort. 

Volunteer Florida, the state’s agency for volunteerism and service work, is one of the partner organizations that works with Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay on those efforts.

“I will tell you there is nothing better than to see a family go back into their home and regain what their sense of normalcy is,” Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo says at the September 28th event.

For more information, go to Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, ToolBank, Volunteer Florida.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.