Harvey = An estimated $20 billion in damages
Irma = Affected over 70,000 square miles in The Caribbean and Florida
Maria = It will take 4-6 months to restore electricity in Puerto Rico
These storms hurricanes made headlines for weeks but now the storms have passed and the focus shifts on the next headline. Meanwhile, for the millions of people who lived through the damaging winds, rain, and flooding, their lives are forever changed. What remains of their family heirlooms, history, and sentimental possessions are piled up at the end of their driveways., or worse, washed away never to be seen again. The cleanup and rebuild of homes and businesses could take months or even years.
Yet amidst the devastation and sorrow, the optimistic stories which restore hope begin to emerge:
As the storm was barreling down on the Miami, Floridaarea, 70 foster children at the SOS Children's Village were moved into an emergency shelter. Five days after the storm had passed, they discovered that their facility was uninhabitable. Enter Marc Bell, a board member of their foster care community. In response to the situation, he opened the doors of his $30 million, 27,000 square foot mansion and took in all 70 of the kids. It is unclear how long the kids will remain in the mansion, but Bell is working on making their community habitable again.
Another story comes from Clarkson, Georgia. Syrian sisters Abeer and Nora Bakri, fled their homeland in 2012 after their country’s civil war and spent four years in Egypt before being resettled to Georgia. Abeer and Nora are familiar with the disparaging feeling of watching your home crumble, and as they prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Irma, they got to work. The sisters delivered traditional dishes to evacuees at local churches, mosques, and synagogues.
Ric Browde of Maddison, New Jersey has been delivering thousands of pounds in supplies by cargo plane all over Puerto Rico since the storm settled. His non-profit, Wings of Rescue, unloads water, food, and toiletries to areas in need after a disaster and transports injured pets to safe animal care facilities nearby. The charity is on-track to shuttle 800 dogs and cats to medical examinations.
As the cleanup continues and the reconstruction begins, let us all remember that while we share this planet Earth, we also share the responsibility to be kind, compassionate, and caring to one another.