The storm brushed Florida on Oct. 7, bringing high winds, floodwaters and mass power outages. It killed nine people.
With the phone lines down, Olsen and his family had no way to contact his grandmother. They waited by the phone, but no call came.
Friday passed with no information. Saturday did, too. By Sunday, Olsen was desperate.
He solicited the help of local law enforcement officials, he wrote on Facebook, but the police and sheriff’s departments “were overwhelmed.”
Without options, Olsen turned to the only other place his mind could muster.
He picked up the phone and punched in some numbers.
Papa John’s Pizza answered right away.
Olsen ordered a pizza — pepperoni — but that was only the vehicle for his mission. In the special instructions section, taped to the top of the pizza box, he had them type a message to the delivery driver: “Please call … when you get to the house.”
Attached was Olsen’s phone number, reported ABC affiliate WFTV.
The directive caught pizza deliveryman Lance Tyler by surprise, he told the TV station, but he obeyed. Tyler pulled up to the house on Parkway Drive and dialed the number on the receipt.
Olsen answered in Nebraska, anxiously inquiring about whether his grandmother, Claire Olsen, was okay. The driver approached the front door and knocked.
“Delivery,” Tyler called out, Claire Olsen recalled to WFTV.
She almost didn’t answer.
Often after massive storms, people with sinister intentions take advantage of the vulnerable, looting homes and business and targeting the elderly. Claire Olsen thought the man at the door was a scammer. Plus, her phone was out, which meant she couldn’t call for help — or for a pizza.
“I didn’t order anything,” Claire Olsen told WFTV she answered back.
“Your grandson did,” Tyler replied.
When Claire Olsen opened the door, the pizza deliveryman on her front porch handed her a cellphone.
“Grandma, I haven’t talked to you in two days,” Eric Olsen said to her, reported WFTV. “I got worried about you.”
“You must be hungry by now,” he said.
The Papa John’s deliveryman watched as Claire Olsen’s confounded reaction gave way to relief.
“Her expression was just priceless,” Tyler told WFTV. “It was just like, ‘Wow!’ ”
On Facebook, Eric Olsen shared his gratitude for Papa John’s.
“They were there in 30 min with a cell phone in her hand, and a pepperoni pizza of course,” he wrote. “Huge thanks to the Palm Coast Papa Johns!!”
Since the delivery, Claire Olsen’s power has been restored and the minimal damage brought by Hurricane Matthew to her area has been cleared away.
“It was fantastic that they were that good,” she said of her grandson and the restaurant’s collaborative efforts. “I’m just thankful for everything.”
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