Most of the mess is gone inside a Hudson warehouse, but Brian Anderson of Pasco County Stand Down said the homeless veterans outreach group’s supplies were recently destroyed.
“It was a complete disaster," Anderson said.
Now it's time for the former Green Beret and others to move thousands of dollars in supplies somewhere more secure.
Three alleged thieves have been arrested for breaking in, vandalizing and stealing cots, food and other goods meant for homeless and at-risk veterans around Tampa Bay.
Authorities said the suspects had been squatting in the warehouse for weeks and even pawned some of the goods.
"I don't think they really understood what they were doing," Anderson said.
But as is often the case, the community stepped up to assist.
Volunteers turned out to clean up over the weekend and Tuesday more came with trucks and an even a forklift to transfer tons supplies to another warehouse with better security.
The supplies are intended for Pasco's yearly Stand Down event scheduled for late October. The event has grown in recent years.
"We are doing a three-day Stand Down and helping those veterans get the tools they need to make it on the civilian streets," Anderson said.
It's difficult to get an exact number, but Stand Down organizers say Pasco County alone had more than 1,400 homeless vets in 2011.
"It is tough and most of them have a bright future if we go ahead and help them make the transition into civilian life," said Air Force veteran Jim Western.
As for the three who were arrested, two of them were found eating lunch at a homeless shelter that owns the same warehouse they are accused of stealing from.