Vizcaya's Tea House lost its wood trellis roof during Irma.EXPAND
Vizcaya's Tea House lost its wood trellis roof during Irma.
Courtesy of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Offers Free Passes to Volunteers Assisting in Irma Cleanup

Like much of South Florida after Hurricane Irma, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens suffered damage to its property and is trying its best to recover. Like most of your neighbors, Vizcaya could also really use your help. Unlike your neighbors, however, the museum is offering more in return than a grateful hug and some bottled water.

Vizcaya is seeking volunteers daily from 9 a.m to noon until further notice. Anyone who volunteers for a three-hour shift will be given a free family pass for two adults and two children to visit Vizcaya — a $48 value — valid when the museum reopens.

"People will be helping to clear fallen trees and other debris from the gardens. It's basically yard work. The volume is very high, so we appreciate all the help we can get," Vizcaya's digital communications manager, Alex Serna, tells New Times.

All ages are welcome to help, with a caveat: "We recommend that if children want to participate, they be no younger than 7 years old and always be supervised by a parent."

All volunteers should ask for the Horticulture Department upon arrival so that security can escort them to the proper areas and direct them where to park.

Vizcaya's executive director, Joel Hoffman, says the damage to the estate is fairly extensive, but fortunately most of the art and architecture survived. "Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma had a lot more sculpture damage," he says. "We can credit learning from those storms and years of careful tree trimming for not getting damaged this time. We had a storm team there throughout the storm troubleshooting for us. Thanks to their assistance, there was no severe collection damage."

Basement flooding
Basement flooding
Courtesy of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Hoffman says fallen debris in the gardens, flooding in the building's basement, and substantial destruction of the yacht landing are the areas that sustained the most damage. "The basement was flooded by the storm surge. That space, which includes our café and shop, has been our main focus right now. We've been drying up that space because we need to get the basement intact to get the power and air conditioning going for the main house."

Though there is much work to be done, Hoffman says he is hopeful with the public's help that Vizcaya can reopen fairly soon. "After Katrina and Wilma, we opened within a week. The key now is getting our power back and clearing the roads. I'm optimistic. We won't be closed for months, I can say that."

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