Hurricane Matthew: Florida neighbors rescue family without shutters

From left to right, Lucy Nacarrato, Elina Barnhart, Olivia Barnhart, Jasmine McDermott, and Shaylen Costello stand in front of the shutter that was installed at Dave Barnhart’s house Friday, October 7, 2016 in Tequesta. The shutter was made of a train track from one of Barnhart’s neighbors. The neighbors helped Barnharts shutter their house. The Barnharts made it through the storm fine. (Yuting Jiang / The Palm Beach Post)

Combined ShapeCaption
From left to right, Lucy Nacarrato, Elina Barnhart, Olivia Barnhart, Jasmine McDermott, and Shaylen Costello stand in front of the shutter that was installed at Dave Barnhart’s house Friday, October 7, 2016 in Tequesta. The shutter was made of a train track from one of Barnhart’s neighbors. The neighbors helped Barnharts shutter their house. The Barnharts made it through the storm fine. (Yuting Jiang / The Palm Beach Post)

Good neighbors make good shutters.

Dave Barnhart, of Tequesta, found that out Thursday before Hurricane Matthew hit his neighborhood. Without shutters for his single-story home, Barnhart, his wife Holly and two children, Elina, 7 and Olivia, 11, were going to ride out the storm at home.

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“I didn’t want to leave my house without shutters,” said Barnhart, 52, a sales representative.

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That changed when word got out in his neighborhood off Seabrook Drive.

Mike McDermott, a yacht captain whose children play with Barnhart’s children, said he had some wood. Neighbor Chris Basara said he would chip in. So did Chris Gunn, who also lives nearby. They brought over their power saws and impact drive screw drivers to drill into the yellow cinder block house.

“We didn’t think riding out the storm without shutters was a good idea,” said McDermott.

The men pooled their tools and elbow grease. They started boarding up the dozen windows, including a bay window in the front and a sliding glass door in the back.

Then they ran out of plywood.

The day before a hurricane, that’s a problem.

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But another neighbor came to the rescue. She had sheets of plywood that her now grownup children had used as a platform to run their toy train set.

The men, not bothering to take the tracks off the plywood, slapped up the sheets over the front windows. The railroad tracks tacked on the plywood make a strange sight to people driving by.

Things were looking good, but they ran out of plywood again with one window left.

Barnhart spied a wooden door leading into his back yard. Off came the hinges. Crossbuck wood facing out, they screwed the old fence door over the last window.

Success.

Barnhart and his family rode out the storm fine. Friday night, they had a party for the neighborhood.

“My neighbors came to my rescue,” Barnhart said.