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Look for the helpers
Hurricane hits home
This week my hometown of Valdosta, Georgia was hit by Hurricane Idalia, a Gulf of Mexico born hurricane that went from a Level 1 to a Level 4 before making landfall in Florida’s “Big Bend Area” and then slowly moving inland to bring its eye straight down the middle of our city. Thousands of trees were leveled, power lines snapped and downed, and some low lying areas experienced some flooding.
It could’ve been worse, much worse. To date they have only attributed one death to the storm but a local emergency management person told me they would probably find 1-2 more people that they don’t know about yet, a remarkably low number for a storm like this hitting an area so ill-prepared for it.
As soon as the weather cleared, my kids had me in my shoes and over to our elderly neighbors to make sure they were ok. Everyone in the neighborhood had at least 3-5 trees down, some came to rest on the houses, the guest houses, the fences or the driveways. We were blessed in that everyone of our trees fell with minimal to no damage to structures in the way. I noticed the same thing all over town, trees down but missing structures by a few feet so that the number of property claims was so much lower than expectations.
And the helpers came. The first morning I noticed license plates from Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. All people in the cleanup business who knew there would be some thankful customers on the other side of the storm. And did they work! Our neighborhood was cutoff from egress because of 10 trees laying across the road. In a matter of hours, things were cleaned up enough that we could come and go as we pleased.
Neighboring states and their power companies sent linemen to restore power, something you never realize how much you miss until it’s gone and then are you ever glad to get it back. And you find new respect for those who climb polls to flip switches so you can get back to your normal way of living.
And the Governor and First Lady came to tell us that they were with us and were doing everything legally that could provide aid and succor to victims. And the Senators came to say the same words, and tour the same areas and provide some measure of assurance to those who sought it.
There were many (some not even here) who were quick to share scenes of seeming devastation on social media, but they missed the point. It was a bad storm, but the devastation didn’t tell the story. The actions of the community did.
Everywhere you go you see organizations deploying resources to those who need them. Free meals, free pet food, free debris removal, and on and on, people finding creative ways to give and give.
Mr. Rogers was right, look for the helpers, and you find them every time.