I’m sure you have been watching the hurricane coverage over the last week. It has been surreal watching Hurricane Irma make its way through the Caribbean and up the Florida coast. The news has been filled with stories of one island after another getting clobbered by heavy rain and high winds, threatening one city after another with devastation. The images were stunning. From southeastern highways filled to max capacity with a standstill of cars fleeing the hurricane’s path to total devastation in St. Martin and other Caribbean islands. Store shelves in grocery stores were empty of water bottles. Easily the most heartbreaking is footage of people searching for prized possessions in the rubble that was their home just a few hours prior.
There is real human tragedy here. Our hearts go out to everyone in the southeastern United States, Florida Keys and the Caribbean, as well as to those in Texas that were recently affected by Hurricane Harvey, but especially to the ones living paycheck to paycheck. The ones unable to leave work, travel a hundred miles out of the hurricane’s reach to wait it out in a motel. It must be devastating.
The scope of disruption to real human lives is unimaginable. There are more than 20 million people in Florida and almost everyone is affected by this calamity. Every kind of human activity is affected. Whether it be a woman hours or days away from giving birth or the old, sick, disabled or ill-equipped for travel – all had to evacuate their homes. Florida has numerous retirement complexes with hundreds, if not thousands of people who are challenged to get to the cafeteria for dinner, let alone flee a hurricane. What became of them? On the other end, those that planned vacations or couples planning dream weddings have to now reschedule. It has to be extraordinarily difficult to start a life together by losing every possession you own.
And then there are the pets. In these kinds of events, earthquakes more than hurricanes, the cats, dogs, gerbils, goldfish and everything else that people lovingly care for suffer. Our local shelters in Wisconsin are busy making room for expected shipments of rescued animals – many who will need new homes. I can only imagine how frightened some of these animals must be without their owners in a storm of this severity.
It really was surreal to watch the television coverage. It seemed like a slow motion tragedy that no human power could dispel. This community now, that one next. I’d tune in every three or four hours to see the update. Luckily, family, friends and business associates I know in Florida are all safe. They’ve migrated to other states. Some have chosen to wait it out after considering the difficulty of trying to flee in the face of medical issues and disabilities.
It will be a long road to recovery – more so personally than economically. I can’t imagine what the loss of almost every single possession in my life would be like. Treasured momentos that include everything from a favorite coffee cup to old letters from girlfriends (yes, that’s how we communicated prior to the Internet), favorite books, pictures, family recipes and everything else. Frankly, a couple feet of white snow from a January storm seems pretty nice compared to what so many are experiencing.
I’m sure I can speak for everyone at RTA that the people of in the southeastern United States, Florida Keys and the Caribbean are in our hearts and prayers and have our best wishes for some return to normalcy.
PS – RTA is making a donation to the Red Cross and I’d urge everyone to do the same. Here’s the link: https://www.redcross.org/ns/apology/disaster_homepage.html?scode=RSG00000E017&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6c32y4ig1gIVDIRpCh02twzNEAAYASAAEgK9ovD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CKDams6IoNYCFROSaQodxOAKzQ.