Bart Tilton suffered severe damage to all three of his Flagler Beach properties due to the hurricane's flooding. But that didn't stop him from serving his neighbors.
Bart Tilton walks around his home at 360 Palm Circle in Flagler Beach.
The house is empty now. Nothing remains except bits of mud and a foot-high water mark that lines every white wall throughout the spacious home. All the furniture, waterlogged from the flooding, has been taken to the street to either be saved or thrown away.
And this was just one of Tilton’s properties.
When Hurricane Irma ripped through Flagler County in the early hours of Monday, Sept. 11, the ensuing storm surge brought widespread devastation to residents living in Flagler Beach.
Tilton suffered damage to all three of the properties he owns in the area, including another home on Palm Circle and one on Avalon Avenue.
It was the first time Tilton decided not to evacuate for a hurricane.
“No one was hurt,” Tilton said. “Yeah, it’s heartbreaking. Our home was displaced, but we will survive.”
But reflecting on his own personal losses is something that never really crossed Tilton’s mind. Instead, he set out to help his affected neighbors, helping to clear debris and move damaged items from flooded homes.
At one point, he saw his next door neighbor sitting in his truck with tears welling in his eyes. Tilton went over to comfort him.
Tilton pointed to his faith in God as the reason why he serves.
“You just can’t sit and watch everybody else do everything; you’ve gotta get out and help,” said Tilton, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “When you’re in service of your fellow man, you’re in service of your Savior.”
It’s his faith that encouraged him to serve, and Tilton said it’s his faith that will get him and his family through this next trial in their lives. He insisted on being positive.
“We’ll rebuild our home,” Tilton said. “We’re gonna do it again. Probably gonna have to raise my house up a foot at least.”