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After a Hurricane Hits

Tom Sullivan

September 12, 2017
Tom Sullivan

Naples and surrounding Western Florida cities and towns avoided what could have been a catastrophic storm surge propelled by Hurricane Irma’s winds. The meteorologists explained that the portended surge did not materialize due to a combination of a course shift to the east and a faster weakening of the eye.

Had Irma ascended up the coast as many feared, major storm surges and flooding would have materialized with western winds pushing ocean water eastward. After seeing the devastation in the Caribbean, it is a relief that this was not the case in Florida.

For many of us, this was an uneasy event. To see people displaced from their homes with the chance of losing their belongings, houses and businesses is an unfortunate sight. And yet, seeing a hurricane unfold up close on our TV sets was something many couldn’t miss out on.

The thousands of reports throughout the weekend seemed redundant at times: reporters bobbing in the strong winds with water splashing in their faces, and their words barely comprehendible due to Irma’s power. It’s hard sometimes not to think that this manufactured drama wasn’t for the ratings (#1 for the Weather Channel and #2 for CNN over much of the period).

Now that the chaos is over, Americans are all going back to their normal lives, and the intense weather reports are over. So what about Florida and other hard-hit areas?

Looking back now at the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I never felt alone. Those who had been strangers became friends ready to lend a helping hand. After devastation, we witness people checking in on sick and elderly neighbors, sharing food and information, and taking precautions to travel without working traffic lights.

Social unity is critical towards building resilience. When communities bond together after a natural disaster, that is when rebuilding and recovery efforts flourish. The reconstruction of bridges, roads, and buildings help communities function again. But the helping hands of others are what rebuilds the mind and the soul of those who lost so much.

After Hurricane Harvey and now Irma, we have witnessed big companies make big changes. Airbnb members are offering free homes to those displaced by the disaster. Bass Pro shops donated hundreds of boats to rescue organizations. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile gave their customers in the path of the hurricanes unlimited cell usage. That’s not to mention the hundreds of companies and citizens donating hundreds of millions of dollars toward rescue and recovery efforts.

Although disasters are horrible, and reporting that capitalizes on disasters are distasteful, the outcome of community union is beautiful. It is when we face the toughest times that real human nature prevails. We’re in it together.

 

We used Charity Navigator to vet organizations that you may consider donating to. These organizations will aid victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma:

Direct Impact Fund: A non-profit organization that focuses on providing immediate and direct assistance to those affected by natural disaster. Funds will be distributed to verified campaigns created to support people affected by Hurricane Harvey and Irma: http://bit.ly/2jjOFOr

All Faiths Food Bank: Based in Sarasota Florida, the organization supplies food and water to those affected during both response and recovery efforts: http://bit.ly/2w5oOzt

Volunteer Florida: Volunteer Florida is the state’s lead agency for volunteers and donations before, during, and after disasters. They Mobilize and deploy resources to assist those responding to and recovering from disasters: http://bit.ly/2e3J6NH

Global Giving: All donations to this fund will help first responders meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter: http://bit.ly/2wN49zE