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Dowagiac community sends relief to Gulf Coast

DOWAGIAC, Mich. -- Hurricane Michael has been downgraded to a tropical storm as it continues to pummel the Gulf Coast.

The deadly storm has caused widespread damage that could take weeks or months for people there to recover.

Now the community in Dowagiac is coming together to help with that recovery.

Brian Antisdel is heading up a mission to take supplies and support to Westville, Florida.

He owns IT3 Computer Solutions in downtown Dowagiac. 

Thursday his entire store was filled with donations after Antisdel made a Facebook group early Wednesday morning announcing his plans to head south and asking for donations. 

"I wasn't going to go. I wasn't. But then I got a message from Cajun Navy Foundation that they needed some vetted people to come down and really get busy," said Antisdel. 

He’s a volunteer for the Michigan team of the Cajun Navy Foundation, a nonprofit that works to provide disaster relief. 

Antisdel says he’s been helping with hurricane relief for six years. He just returned home from a three-week mission in the Carolinas. 

Though he considered not going to Florida, Antisdel says when he saw the community’s heart to help he couldn’t say no.  

"The community said here's a truck, here are two kayaks, here's a pontoon boat, you're going,” he said. “I can't deny the community."

As donations of food and supplies poured in his shop door Wednesday, Antisdel said he wasn’t surprised.

“I’m not surprised in the least bit,” he said. “These people are amazing.”

Quick collection of donations has allowed Antisdel to now leave earlier than originally planned. He now plans to leave Thursday evening. 

"I love my town. I just love it,” he said. “It says a lot. We're not lazy like they say. We're a great town. We're a town of giving. We're not a group, we're a town of greatness. That's the way I like to put it."

Donations can be dropped off at IT3 Computer Solutions at 146 S Front St, Dowagiac, MI 49047. Monetary donations can be given through Paypal to Dowagiacit3@yahoo.com

Click here for the Facebook group created by Antisdel for the latest information on the mission.

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