The newest household name – Irma – is wreaking havoc here in the southeast United States. A couple of weeks ago, I only knew one person named Irma, and she's such a sweet and kind woman.
This newest Irma is quite the opposite; she's a blustery, angry woman, destroying everything in her path. Irma showcases one of the many reasons that living in Florida is as scary as it is utopian. The trade-off for enjoying warm weather and lovely beaches is hurricanes (and bugs and sand).
Irma has brought her nastiness all the way to north Georgia, and she's expected to reach even farther by week's end. I can't remember another time when a hurricane's wrath has been felt so strongly so far inland. My husband and I spent most of the day on Sunday bringing outdoor furniture, bird feeders and houses, yard art and such indoors. He has watched The Weather Channel like a hawk; gearing up for such weather events is his thing. He hauled out the generator, stashed flashlights in strategic places throughout the house, and stocked up on essentials: water, Mountain Dew and Little Debbies. His vigilance shines best during emergencies such as Ms. Irma.
I watched The Weather Channel along with him, though I worried a great deal about those skinny weather guys standing out in gale-force winds and occasionally taking debris to the face and gut. They worried me, and I'm not sure whether they were aware, but all viewers could hear was the bellowing wind anyway. I hope they earned hazard pay for their efforts.
I also saw the selfless, heroic efforts of thousands of volunteers, neighbors and strangers, extending a compassionate hand to their fellow man. When I see such acts of extraordinary kindness, I feel that maybe there is hope for our otherwise selfish, greedy race. And in contrast to those selfless acts, I watched clips of greedy, self-crazed looters, hauling off big screen TVs, liquor, small appliances, shoes and whatever else they could get their hands on. I can't understand that mentality. I never will. It's the ugly underbelly of our race, the sharp contrast against the kindness and compassion shown by so many others.
Relief efforts ranging from the hands-on help we can offer by traveling to Florida, to opening our homes to bedraggled, worried evacuees, are wonderful ways that we can help from up here. We've opened our home to family members of friends, but that's just one opportunity. We can find out what supplies are most needed and send them. We can donate blood. We can send clothes and shoes through locally organized church efforts. We can send donations in any amount to properly-vetted relief organizations. The people of Houston still desperately need our help, and now our neighbors to the south are in need.
Though we can't ignore the base and greedy nature of others, I'm choosing to focus on the kind and generous response to Irma and Harvey. If you want to help but are not sure where to begin, I suggest you search online for vetted agencies and efforts (scams are rampant, disguised as assistance). Ask friends for their recommendations. If you still haven't found what you're looking for, contact local churches to inquire about ways to lend a hand. The avenues are too numerous to list here, but a little research will answer any questions you might have.
This is our opportunity to shine.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was named Finalist for 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in the Detective/Mystery genre. Her previous three books are written with loving humor about the South. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she's not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family and life in her beloved South. Follow Carole on Facebook (Carole Townsend-Author), Twitter @caroletownsend, or Instagram @carole.w.riter.