NEENAH (NBC 26) — Last week, The Neenah Police Department organized a Hurricane Ian Relief drive for the police department in Fort Myers.
“They reached out as soon as this happened and said we’re coming,” said Lieutenant Lesa Breneman from the Fort Myers Police Department.
Neenah’s Chief Aaron Olson and Assistant Chief Jeff Bernice both used to live and work in Fort Myers. It was never a matter of if, but how to send help.
“Law enforcement, we’re family. It doesn’t matter what agency you work for. We always maintain those close bonds because we know what each other goes through,” said Lieutenant Breneman.
During last week’s drive, Chief Olson told me, “Obviously Florida is a long way away, but we’re all neighbors here in America and this hurricane is like nothing we’ve ever seen.”
Not even the nearly 1,500 miles between the two cities could break the bond between badges.
“You know a semi is coming but when you open it up and it is packed to the brim with water, disinfecting wipes, and paper products and things that we desperately need down here in our community… it was just inspiring,” said Lieutenant Breneman.
Neenah’s NM Transfer Driver, Wayne Peters, made the much-needed delivery.
“About 50 miles out I started noticing the trees and everything was down on the freeways and all the signs, and everything was damaged along there. It's unreal,” said Peters. “Everywhere it’s devastated here. These officers, I can’t imagine they’ve slept in days, weeks.”
Upon arrival, Peters received an escort, fit for family.
“About 10 police officers met me at the freeway exit and they were flying all over the place making sure I got downtown and making sure I was safe,” said Peters.
The Neenah community showed their generosity more than the organizers say could’ve imagined.
“By the end of the day, we had two trailers loaded full. It’s a pretty amazing community we live in,” said Peters.
The trucks were packed with necessities including bottled water, something they desperately needed.
“Not only in the initial days of the aftermath of the hurricane was there not running water, but up until now, many areas are still on a boil water notice which means that the water is contaminated and can’t be used for drinking or brushing teeth,” said Lieutenant Breneman.
Items that Neenah residents can easily access, could make the world of difference to the residents in Fort Myers.
“I don’t even know how to put it into words, I’m at a loss for words. Just please make sure that they know that these are well-needed supplies, and we are extremely grateful for their generosity,” said Lieutenant Breneman.