Student Sacrificed Personal Needs to Assist Others During Hurricane Irma
As Hurricane Irma approached the State of Florida, many residents evacuated their homes to avoid the path of the storm. But Floyd Diehl didn’t. Instead of moving away from the hurricane, he raced toward it, to assist those in need. What he didn’t know was that by helping others, he would be making a personal sacrifice.
The undergraduate public administration student was deployed by Royal Lao Airborne, a nonprofit military organization, to assist the Community Emergency Response Team in Pinellas County before and after the hurricane. He spent four to five days with the CERT team, transporting evacuees to shelters, assessing residential damage and clearing roadways of debris.
Diehl said that he has many memories of his days stationed at Fire Station 57, including the evacuation of young girl who was scared of the storm.
“She said to me ‘You don’t go out there, you stay inside’ as she cried with tears running down her face,” Diehl said. “She begged me not to go back out, but I had to continue to do so because more people needed help.”
What Diehl didn’t know was that he, too, would need help. Upon returning to his new home in Polk County, he found that the roof was damaged, the fence was gone, the air conditioner was broken and many personal items were lost.
“I made the ultimate choice to help others instead of my own personal needs,” said Diehl. “This is without a doubt a defining moment in my life.”
With the cost of repairs being significant, Diehl doesn’t know if he can afford to finish his classes before graduation in December. If he can’t, his dream of attending graduate school will also have to be delayed. Despite the hardships he is facing, Diehl said there isn’t anything he would have done differently.
“Putting others needs before my own clearly defines who I am,” he said. “My motto is ‘So that others may live. Death before dishonor.’”
Diehl has lived that motto by serving in the Army, the Texas State Guard, the New Mexico State Guard and the Georgia State Defense Force, which is a volunteer unit of the Georgia Department of Defense. He is currently a lieutenant in Royal Lao Airborne, which awarded him with a Humanitarian Service Medal in honor of the assistance he provided during Irma.