VALDOSTA -- With wind gusts topping 180 mph, Hurricane Charley destroyed portions of the Florida city of Punta Gorda nearly two weeks ago.

Officials with Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity Inc. want to help rebuild it. However, they first need assistance from the citizens of Valdosta and the surrounding areas.

Warren Scoby, warehouse manager for Habitat, said he is in the process of collecting building materials for this mission. Donations of shingles, roofing felt and nails, oriented strand board -- an engineered wood panel -- and hurricane clips -- metal straps that are used to secure the roof rafters and trusses to the top horizontal wall plate -- are needed.

Scoby said these items can be delivered to the Habitat for Humanity warehouse at 2010 E. Cypress St. He asked that individuals or companies call him at (229) 560-1112 before dropping the items off at the facility.

As part of this initiative, Scoby said The Salvation Army is collecting nonperishable food items, paper products, sunscreen, gloves and bottled water for this mission. Those items should be dropped off at the organization's 320 Smithland Place location.

Scoby visited the Punta Gorda area last week, delivering tarps to the locally-based Habitat for Humanity affiliate. There he saw firsthand the mess Hurricane Charley left in its aftermath.

"The need is so great in that area right now," he said. "They need our help."

Scoby said materials and supplies will be collected through Sept. 10. That afternoon they will be loaded on a tractor-trailer from Valdosta Technical College and transported to Punta Gorda.

A few days later, Scoby said a group of volunteers and employees from Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity Inc. and Habitat for Humanity of Fannin and Gilmer Counties Inc. in Cherry Log will travel to the area, prepared to repair and rebuild those structures destroyed by Hurricane Charley.

For information about this initiative, please call Warren Scoby with Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity Inc. at (229) 560-1112.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call (229) 244-3400, ext. 255.

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