In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, a nun — dressed in her habit — fired up a chain saw and went to work, clearing trees from a Florida roadway.
Sister Margaret Ann, principal of Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School in Miami, said the street from her convent to the campus was blocked Monday by downed trees, forcing drivers to steer onto the sidewalk, where they were sliding in mud and debris.
Although yard work is not something the sister would typically do, she said, she walked out to SW 104th Street wielding a roaring power tool — and praying for those who were affected by the storm.
“People were kind of stopping and taking pictures,” Sister Margaret Ann said Wednesday afternoon.
She said one of them was an off-duty Miami-Dade police officer, who captured the moment on video and posted it Tuesday on social media, where it has since been shared tens of thousands of times. The video shows the sister wearing gloves, slicing through tree branches on the side of the road.
Sister Margaret Ann told The Washington Post the officer told her, “You know, the police will do this.”
“I said, ‘Well maybe so, but it will take a while — and they have more important things to do, really.’ ”
Sister Margaret Ann said Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, a school with about 300 students nestled up next to the Everglades, was not spared from the storm. She said it suffered significant damage to its cooling tower, bleachers were blown over and several acres of trees were destroyed.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, police thanked the sister, saying, “As we recover from #HurricaneIrma, these acts of kindness remind us all that we are #OneCommunity in #MiamiDadeCounty!”
The Miami-Dade Police Department did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.
Sister Margaret Ann, who said she spent about three hours Monday morning helping to clear the neighborhood road, noted that the response to the video has been overwhelming.
“Sister you ROCK!!” one person wrote on Facebook.
“God Bless You Sister Margaret Ann, rockin’ a chain saw — like a boss — AND in full habit [although you may want to think that one over for safety]!” another said. Many people expressed concern that she was wearing loosefitting clothing while operating the saw.
“Prayers are great, but prayer accompanied by action is powerful,” one person wrote beneath the post.
“Humbleness at its best,” one added. “Prayers for her and all thru out the world of tragedies and love.”
The sister said people have been reaching out to the high school as well, saying, “This is great. This is what people need to see. This is really what the Catholic church is all about.”