This hurricane season has been incredibly active and destructive, increasing the need for us to give time and money to help hurricane survivors. This topic is near and dear to my heart, because I grew up in hurricane country.
I am from Fort Walton Beach Florida. That is in the Florida Panhandle. Sometimes I joke that I’m from LA…Lower Alabama. Alabama is 45 minutes north from my hometown. If a hurricane comes into the Gulf of Mexico, and heads north, my hometown is the bulls eye.
I’ve ridden out more hurricanes than I can remember, and evacuated from several as well. I understand the stress and trauma they bring, and the after effects that can last decades.
Here are some of the stories I’ve been hearing that highlight the need to help hurricane survivors.
Hurricane Harvey – after effects
Harvey came ashore in Rockport, Texas on August 25th, 2017. Rockport is about 200 miles south of Houston. The storm stalled out and dumped enormous amounts of rain on Texas, overwhelming the bayous and other water features of Houston.
I went to Houston with a team from VMware to volunteer with the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts this week, a month after Harvey made landfall. The small team I was on was assigned to go to a low income apartment complex for senior citizens. They had been told a week earlier they were being evacuated from their complex, due to dangerous electrical problems caused by the flooding. You can read more about their situation here.
We helped the residents pack up, but they were not happy about things. While we were there, the Red Cross was there handing out financial aid. The seniors had to stand for hours in the hot parking deck (the community area was destroyed by the flood). For the life of me, I don’t understand why the Red Cross workers didn’t go to each apartment to help these folks.
Their community was being ripped apart, and they had absolutely no control over it. It broke my heart, and this is happening all over East Texas.
Hurricane Irma – after effects
Irma came was the most powerful hurricane to make landfall in the US since Katrina. It came ashore in the US in Cudjoe Key Florida on September 10, 2017. It hovered near south Florida until it came ashore again on Marco Island.
This one hit closer to home. I have a friend (actually part of my second family) in Key West, and her home was destroyed. She’s trying to fix what she can, but she needs help. I’m begging her not to wait on FEMA, but to let folks who are volunteering help her. Another part of my second family in Tallahassee got their air conditioner working yesterday, almost three weeks after the storm.
Again, this is incredibly heartbreaking. My family is hurting, and there really isn’t much I can do. To think that many others are even worse off is frightening.
Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico – after effects
Maria hit Dominica September 19, 2017 and then Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. The island is without water, electricity, and is running out of food. If you’ve never had to survive a hurricane, let me tell you what you can’t do without electricity:
- No refrigeration
- No air conditioning
- No ATMs (no cash)
- No internet
- No computers
- No gasoline (pumps need electricity)
- No lights at night (unless you have a generator, which needs gas)
- No TVs
- No ice
- No hospital service – ventilators, ICUs, NIC ICUs…
You have to cook everything on a grill. You try to cook everything in your fridge and freezer before they go bad.
Without water, you have can’t take a shower, can’t brush your teeth, can’t cook, can’t clean, can’t flush your toilet.
In Puerto Rico, all of the land lines and most of the cell towers are out. All normal communications are out, plus you can’t call 911 in emergencies.
They need our help. This plea from the mayor of San Juan sums it up:
San Juan mayor: “I am asking the President of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives” pic.twitter.com/nOX5RNGmyp
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 29, 2017
What can you do to help hurricane survivors?
If you have the opportunity to go help someone impacted by this storm, please do that. If you can give money, do that.
These storms are causing massive sociological disruptions, and some of them are just now coming to light. Please help hurricane survivors from all of these storms.