Florida native turned Hoosier collecting supplies for Hurricane Michael relief effort

(WTHR Photo)

LIZTON, Ind. (WTHR) – Rob Ecker's been feeding Hoosiers at his new restaurant in Lizton since April.

"I'm not a native Hoosier, but I feel like I am now," said Ecker.

That's because the owner of Rusted Silo is getting a taste of Hoosier hospitality after he put out a call for supplies to help people affected by Hurricane Michael.

"Everybody's really reaching out and embracing us and helping us out," said Ecker.

It's a personal mission for this husband and father.

Ecker grew up in Panama City, Florida and most of his loved ones, including his parents, are still there.

"Everybody I loved stayed put against advice and best wishes they did," Ecker explained, saying the last time he talked to anyone in his family was via text on Wednesday morning.

"I'm still waiting to hear from my mother. I don't know if she's ok, if she's fine," said Ecker.

A friend sent Rob some pictures of the devastation.

"Trees down in houses. Powers completely out. No cell service," Ecker explained.

That's why he's anxious to get on the road and see the damage for himself.

Ecker heads to Florida Friday morning, behind the wheel of a pick up truck filled with water.

He'll also be pulling an 18 foot trailer, he hopes will be filled with more supplies.

"We're collecting water, non-perishable food items, pet food, baby supplies, anything that anyone may need in case of an emergency," Ecker explained.

"I encourage anybody to come out and give something to do what they can," said restaurant customer Dudley Foreman.

For Foreman that meant donating money. His dad was from Panama City.

"It hits close to home," said Foreman.

"I think it's great everybody's pitching in. I think whatever anybody can do would be greatly appreciated," Foreman added.

Ecker certainly appreciates it and is anxious to show the people from his hometown how much Hoosiers they've never even met, care about them.

He will be collecting supplies from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at The Rusted Silo Thursday.