Hurricane Harvey and Irma struck with fury and left massive destruction and flooding in their path. Those affected suffered great losses. Many lost their home, cherished possessions, or their beloved pets, while others faced the greatest loss of all – the loss of a loved one.
In the midst of the chaos, something remarkable happened. There was an outpouring of compassion that swept across our country. From coast to coast, businesses and people from all walks of life stepped up to help those in need.
This resulted in an amazing triumph. People set aside their differences to help those who were reeling from the disaster.
Tragedy, once again, brought to the forefront the good that is so prevalent in this country. The anger and strife that had been rocking our media took a backseat, and our country proved we were united amidst the adversity.
When our country faces a tragedy, such as on 9/11 or during other disastrous events, the pain is felt nationwide. We unite together and find strength and comfort.
Benevolent companies across our country put the welfare of those in need above their own desire for revenue. Anheuser-Busch stopped making beer, so they could provide drinking water. Thousands of cans of fresh water were delivered to those in need. Many companies who had branches in the affected areas sent employees from across the country to sub for those who were affected by the devastation – giving them time to get their lives back together. Donations and supplies came pouring in from generous people and companies from all across the country.
On the local scene, restaurants that were able to function made meals, bread, pizzas and more and delivered food by boat to those that were stranded or part of the rescue crew. Workers who were marooned in a bakery for a few days spent their time making baked goods to give away.
High schoolers (Students of the Service Club) from the Midwest put together hundreds of backpacks and filled them with school supplies. These were sent to students who had lost their homes. Another amazing act of kindness.
Rescue workers worked around the clock and put their lives on the line to help those who were stranded. The rising flood waters were threatening the lives of many and time was of the essence. The police, coast guard, fire department, national guard, and all other volunteer rescue workers worked until they dropped from exhaustion. Volunteers were seen diving into the water to see if anyone was stuck in vehicles left stranded along the flooded roadways.
Animal shelters sprung up to rescue pets that had gotten separated from their owners, and volunteers helped wildlife that were forced out of their habitat. Local churches, stores, and businesses that were not flooded opened their doors to welcome those who had nowhere else to go. Large delivery trucks and dump trucks that were able to navigate some of the flooded streets picked up loads of people who were trapped and moved them to higher ground.
Volunteers from just about every state rushed in to assist in the rescue efforts. Many took off work (oftentimes without pay), paid for their transportation, and jumped in to help. Many came with their boat in tow. The Diesel Brothers sent a fleet of lifted trucks, fuel, and a helicopter to help with rescues, and a group of monster trucks (driven by volunteers) also showed up to help those in cities hardest hit by the floods in Texas. Incredible.
Cruise lines also joined in the rescue efforts. The Royal Caribbean sent out cruise ships to St. Thomas and St. Maarten to deliver supplies and help evacuate those ravaged by the hurricane. It also evacuated its employees and their families from Miami prior to the storm. Norwegian Cruise Line sent a ship to St. Thomas to deliver supplies and assist in humanitarian efforts. Carnival has dropped off food, supplies, and generators to the islands hardest hit.
Social media played a big role in the rescue efforts. When people were unable to get through to 911 or to any other rescue services, they resorted to sending out an “SOS” over social media. Photos and calls for help were copious, and the responses were amazing. Strangers rushed in to help. The rapid sharing of these messages of distress helped rescue workers find those in grave danger.
The picture of residents in a retirement home made its way to social media. It showed a gut-wrenching photo of elderly people sitting in water up to their chests. One woman was seen knitting as she watched the water rise around her — a great illustration of calmness in the midst of the storm. A latter pictured showed them safe and on dry land. We are all very thankful they were rescued.
And then there was the woman that went into labor in the midst of the pouring rain and flooding. The streets surrounding her home were flooded. Her distraught message received an overwhelming response. Those who lived in the area formed a human chain by stretching out their arms and holding hands with one another. The woman in labor was able to get through the flooded streets to a dump truck that was waiting to take her to the hospital. As she struggled through the rising waters, each person along the way reached out their hand to keep her from falling.
What a sight to behold! Neighborly compassion at its finest.
There was no electricity for days, extending into weeks. There was no air conditioning in one of the hottest months in Florida, which can be dangerous for the elderly and the very young. Life was at a standstill. Many people felt alone and frightened as they weathered the aftereffects of the storms. But they were not alone.
On the heels of the storms, the acts of heroism and compassion were nothing short of remarkable. Many of these great acts did not reach the news or social media, but their impact made a difference. Someone is alive because of these fine people. Someone has food, water, and shelter – all because of kind strangers who cared enough to lend a hand.
We honor all of you who reached out to help those in need! You are a hero in the greatest sense of the word. And for those who suffered bravely through the storm, we admire you for your courage. You just faced one of life’s most difficult moments, and you made it through. It’s in our toughest times that we find out what we’re made of and realize a strength we never thought we had.
There is still a long way to go in the rebuilding of the many lives that were affected by the storms. One thing is for sure, strength is found in unity.
As John F. Kennedy so eloquently put it, “I always thought that someone should do something, until one day I realized, I was that Someone.”
For more information:
You can find a list of larger companies that provided financial assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. This is only a partial list, because there were so many companies and individuals that volunteered their time or gave anonymously.