Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SURVIVING IRMA: A Time to be Kind!

A Time to be Kind!

Just days after celebrating the
long Labor Day weekend, lives
across the "Sunshine State" have
been "disrupted"  once again. 

"WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!" My teenage compadre's proclamation was passionate and pure as we stood helplessly on the driveway at 10pm — rain whipping across our faces while observing the quickly-rising water levels that threatened to swallow-up our newly-adopted Palm Bay residence.

Then came the calm after the storm. The nighttime mugginess still clinging to the barely-born morning was perfectly normal for this time of year. The once-ominous river had somehow dissipated miraculously. And the streets — now eerily quiet. In fact, the distinctive sound of a lone generator humming in the distance was practically the only indication of the mighty force that tore through Florida just hours earlier. However, in the light of day, the full damage — the destruction and (sadly) the death toll caused by Hurricane Irma would be undeniable.

My family had relocated to Orlando from Springfield, Missouri back in 1975. For a 12-year-old kid, the notion of moving to a "tropical paradise" was appealing, indeed. And the thought of ever enduring a devastating storm never even entered my mind — until Hurricane David blew through Florida in 1979. But the damage caused by David was minimal. In fact, my only related memory is that of my dad chopping up and hauling out a destroyed tree from the backyard.

My personal hurricane survival bag contained
a VERY few of my most prized possessions.
However, as an adult, living through and dealing with catastrophic storms has become an increasingly all too common occurrence — from Hurricane Andrew that ripped through south Florida in '92 to Hurricane Floyd in '99 to the series of THREE major storms that battered my hometown in ONE single week during 2004. Truth be told, the unique fragrances of wet drywall, mold and mildew now are forever affixed to my nasal membranes.

Yet through all the heartbreaking devastation, the human spirit continues to prove stronger than any storm. Yeah, of course there's always that guy — "Mr. D. Bag"  thoughtless, impatient and selfish. But far more often than not, times like these tend to bring out the best in us — neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers. And as I dug out from under the most recent rubble, I was once again moved by the spirit of people coming together and rising above circumstances.

The damages I've been dealt personally this time around are minimal, compared to what others are dealing with. Although my power now has been restored, both cellular and cyber communications are still proving to be frustrating challenges. But I want folks to know, I'm here, and available. If you have a need, please feel free to reach out to me personally. At this time, email is my most effective means of communication. I also welcome readers to post their own hurricane-related stories and experiences in the "Comments" section, below.

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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