Instead of belting out tunes in front of country music crowds, Florida Georgia Line lead singer Brian Kelley was backing a U-Haul truck full of supplies into the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.
Kelley and his wife Brittney flew from Texas then drove from Santa Rosa Beach to the hardest hit areas of the Florida panhandle on Tuesday to be “boots on the ground” and lend a hand with Hurricane Michael relief efforts.
“We raced home and hit the road yesterday morning,” Kelley said. “I just want to be boots on the ground when I can and be boots on the ground and lead by example.”
Kelley, who is originally from Ormond Beach, said that Hurricane Michael really hit home for him, and he felt the need to give back and lend a hand in person.
“I’m a Florida boy tried and true, we kind of took this storm personally,” he said, noting that the dock on his home in Santa Rosa Beach was destroyed in the storm. “We are all very blessed and very lucky, just knowing how close everyone was to devastation, it puts it into perspective.
Even though Kelley had events planned in Nashville, he said he cancelled them in order to serve his home state.
“I told them I had to go, Florida boy is going to do Florida boy things,” Kelley said. “It’s my home state and that’s the was I was raised. I’ve never been more proud of being from Florida. Everybody is doing something it makes me proud of being from Florida, not only because of the land, but because of the people.”
The first stop on Kelley’s relief tour was to the Franklin County Sheriff’s office where Sheriff A.J. “Tony” Smith was happy to welcome supplies.
“It’s nice to know that people who have done well and have been successful want to give back,” said Smith. “We actually talked about doing a fundraiser concert here in the future for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office charity fund. He (Kelley) told me (Tuesday) that there were some storms last year and he wanted to come help but he was committed to concerts, but this year he said he was coming anyway, he had some things to do in Nashville and he just blew them off to come here, he said he just had to.”
Smith said Kelley donated chain saws, generators, baby supplies, non-perishable food, water bottles, gasoline and other much needed supplies. He also said he was happy to see a celebrity coming in to give aid, and to his knowledge, Kelley was the first.
“People will say, ‘Where’s all the celebrities that help?’ and I’m like, ‘Well here’s the first one to come in,’” Smith said. “It’s always nice to see the people who have been successful, don’t forget the other people that are struggling and trying to get through the hard times. There’s people who don’t forget so we appreciate it.”
As for Kelley, he said he and his crew are setting aside this entire week to continue hurricane relief efforts.
“We are just trying to be available this week for God and the universe to chip in, it’s just part of living,” he said. “We are taking it day by day and trying not get too ahead of ourselves, it’s going to take a long time to rebuild and you can easily get overwhelmed so that’s why we wanted to be here. I’m humbled to be a Floridian.”