In August, the nations’ eyes were fixed on the devastation Hurricane Harvey caused in Texas. Many businesses and residents of Loudoun County acted to support through donations and volunteering time, yet one local couple decided to roll up their sleeves and answer the call for help.
Doug and Sally Coiner traveled to Texas shortly after Harvey stunned the nation with the Cajun Navy, an ad-hoc volunteer group comprising of private boat owners who assist in search and rescue efforts.
Driving through the night, the couple made their way to flooded areas not knowing where they would be needed. Sally, a trained EMT, contacted many Texas hospitals which were unreachable due to power or phone outages. Others, she was informed, had to turn away non-critical patients because they were overcrowded.
Finally reaching law enforcement, the Coiners were recruited to assist in boat rescues.
Eventually, the Coiners made their way to a church functioning as a shelter. They were the only people at the church providing medical aid and serviced hurricane victims for over the next 48 hours. Sally’s training and experience as a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician proved invaluable to effectively triage patients.
Sally’s efforts saved at least one life and prevented more stress on an already overtaxed medical and first responder system. Other shelters heard the aide the Coiners were providing and began sending their non-critical patients to the church until the number of people swelled to over 75 patients seeking medical help from the Loudoun couple.
The Coiners had only been home in Paeonian Springs a week before attention turned from Houston to the Florida coast. They quickly rallied donations and supplies from their friends in Loudoun. Sally began driving toward Florida the same day Hurricane Irma hit.
Once again, Sally assisted residents, this time, hit hard by Irma. She volunteered in a neighborhood in the Bonita Springs area.
Virginia State Senator Dick Black, after hearing of the Coiners actions presented Sally with a Certificate of Appreciation and will introduce a Commemorating Resolution to officially recognize their sacrifices in the upcoming legislative session.
“What the Coiners did was nothing short of amazing,” Black explained. “The Coiners didn’t hesitate to help fellow Americans in crisis. They used their own money and took time off from work to help strangers in need. These are the stories that unite us.”
“I was surprised by all the recognition,” Sally said. “I went because I couldn’t just sit and watch the tragedy unfold on my TV. Individuals were making a real difference and I couldn’t sit that out.”
“What I really want is for people not to forget about the people of Houston. They have years of recovery ahead and we need to step up and support them through all of it, not just the part that makes it onto the evening news,” Sally said.