Dancing Deputy Sings to Elderly Woman in Shelter to Ease Her Fears During Hurricane Irma: 'We Need More Smiles'
Deputy James Froelich knew just how to comfort an elderly woman in need
A Florida deputy danced and sang to ease the nerves of an elderly woman frightened by Hurricane Irma—showing residents a tender moment during a time of heartbreak and devastation.
Deputy James Froelich of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department was walking around a storm shelter set up at the Osceola Council On Aging Senior Center on September 10, when he noticed a “nice lady” sitting on the edge of her cot, looking saddened.
“She told me she was worried about her house, her cat, the people at the shelter and what the storm was going to do,” Deputy Froelich, 41, tells PEOPLE. “I assured her she was in a safe place and there wasn’t any sense sitting there with a frown—so I asked what I could do to put a smile on her face.”
With the wind from Hurricane Irma howling outside, the woman, Pat, told Froelich that a dance would do the trick.
The footage shows the officer taking Pat by the hand as the two gently rock back and forth in the middle of the shelter. Froelich then thought of the lyrics to Bobby Darin’s “Somewhere Beyond the Sea,” a song he used to sing to his two children when they were babies, and sang it to her as they danced.
“Ah, he sings!” Pat exclaimed as Froelich belted the classic (and still very catchy) tune.
The officer was about halfway through a 36-hour shift at the shelter with minimal sleep when they danced, and he says he’s lucky he didn’t sound like a “bull frog” on camera. (An employee at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department assured PEOPLE that Froelich has an even better singing voice than what is shown in the video.)
Pat hugged Froelich and gave him a peck on the cheek as they finished their dance.
The video has amassed about 150,000 views on Facebook, and commenters praised Froelich for his big dance moves and even bigger heart.
“This is beyond awesome,” said Cecilia Carlisle-beaird. “Thank you, Deputy Froelich, you are amazing.”
Other commenters expressed gratitude in seeing the unnoticed acts of kindness that officers do every day.
“One of the sweetest things ever,” wrote Nancy Baker. “Awesome officer”
Hurricane Irma has damaged much of Florida, and though the storm has now dissipated, residents are still grappling with the aftermath. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Department tells PEOPLE that more than 11,000 people are still without power in the county, and the Washington Post reports that 40-percent of the entire state is still without electricity. It could be days or even weeks before power returns.
In the state’s Hollywood Hills area, eight senior citizens died on Wednesday as a result of a power outage at their nursing home that cut off their air conditioning system.
Thursday was Froelich’s sixth day working with staff at the Council On Aging Senior Center. The area where many of the 136 seniors at the shelter were evacuated from—the Good Samaritan Village—is still flooded. Luckily, Froelich will be there to help keep the morale high.
“A lot of people asked me why I did it, and I say that if my mom was in the same place, I would hope somebody would do the same thing for her,” Froelich says.
“If I have the capability to brighten somebody’s day, I’m going to do it every time. We need more smiles in the world, not frowns.”