NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - Right before Hurricane Ian hit, Austin Strongwater says people who live in his RV park in New Smyrna Beach told him it never floods there, but flood it did. The storm filled the park with feet of water.
He and his girlfriend Andrea Robbin’s RV flooded and they lost pretty much everything.
"It was waist-deep water. All of our stuff got washed away. We had no insurance. So we lost all our clothes," Strongwater said. "All of our belongings and that's pretty much where we are at. Just trying to put all the pieces back together."
One of their cars was also flooded out. Now the couple is trying to pick up the pieces, all while preparing for a baby on the way.
"We have been going through a lot of struggles like I haven't been able to go back to work because I lost my car," Robbin said.
- Florida students say they waited outside for hours before homecoming dance
- WATCH: First SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches from Florida in three years, creating double sonic booms
Strongwater's friend, Kevin Moore, wanted to help, so he put together a raffle to raise money.
"I feel like if I can do something I should do it," Kevin said. "I just had a baby myself. I have a 7-month-old. That's a stressful situation."
Moore lives in Palm Coast and considers himself lucky that he escaped Ian’s wrath, but seeing his friend lose everything made him ask himself how he couple help. He decided to use what he does for a living: tattooing.
Moore said he is giving away a full-day tattoo session which is worth $1,200. Raffle tickets cost $50 each. So far, he has raised $1,700, but he hoped to collect even more.
He works at "Unify Tattoo" in St. Augustine, but up until four years ago, he had a different career. He was a structural iron worker.
He said he broke his neck while on the job and couldn’t do that type of work anymore.
"I was hungry. I didn't have anything to eat. I ate blue cheese a few times for dinner. I started drawing dog portraits for people and people ate it up. I was making $50, and I was like, ‘oh I can eat.' Cool," Moore said.
Drawing turned into tattooing which grew into a career. He said he knows what it is like to start over with nothing.
That is why he is splitting whatever he makes between the Strongwater and the Nelson family from Ormond Beach.
He never met them but he saw their post on Facebook and reached out to ask how he could help. Moore said they have three children and they had everything they owned on their front lawn.
"I just have an understanding of what it's like to lose everything, so I think it's my obligation to help people if I could. Whatever I can do. I don't have a lot, but I can do this. If it helps, it helps," Moore said.
(Those who wish to help can contact Moore on his Instagram page here.)
The families he is helping said they could not be more thankful. "I couldn't believe it. He's a great friend. Super grateful for friends like that," Strongwater said.