The Town-Crier returns to publication this week after a brief delay due to Hurricane Irma. Like the return of this newspaper after a hurricane-marred week, life in the western communities continues to return to normal at a fairly brisk pace after the storm. We can’t help but think that as bad as it was (and it was not fun), it could have been much worse.
Lasting damage to homes and businesses from Irma in our area was fairly light. The worst part of the storm seems to have been damage to trees and landscaping, followed by widespread power outages. And even that pales in comparison to the storms in 2004 and 2005.
Let’s face it: Yes, it was a rough stretch. Yes, while there was a ton of hype, for once the devastating reality was relatively close. And yes, we had to deal with long gas lines, grocery store aisles void of bread and bottled water, and the other inconveniences of preparing for a major hurricane. But, in the end, we weren’t hit as bad as was forecast.
Part of the reason we can look back with a collective sigh of relief is that Irma came on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which dropped an estimated 33 trillion gallons of water on Houston, which, according to the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory, pushed the earth’s crust down two centimeters while simultaneously flooding the entire region in ways reminiscent of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
Part of the reason is that when Irma nailed St. Martin, Anguilla and Barbuda, she destroyed thousands of buildings, displacing many from their homes and knocking out power and potable water systems. Food and water are scarce. Hospitals and health clinics are struggling. Schools are closed indefinitely. Something similar can be said of Irma’s devastation in the Florida Keys and parts of Southwest Florida.
Part of the reason is, quite frankly, even when our area was hit by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004, the area most decimated was north of Sewell’s Point in Martin County: Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach and the Treasure Coast suffered far worse than Palm Beach County.
Add the raging wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and two major earthquakes that just hit Mexico, and, well, we’re doing OK here.
None of this is to say we had it easy. But in the grand scheme of things, we lucked out. And that luck continued this week with Hurricane Maria skirting our area but blasting Puerto Rico with the same fury Irma laid on St. Martin, with the same devastating results.
So, as we pick up the pieces, let’s remember how lucky we are in comparison and lend a hand to those who need it. If you’re looking for a way to help, check out organizations such as the Red Cross (www.redcross.org), Band Aid For America (www.bandaidforamerica.org), Boots on the Ground (www.bootsontheground.org), Mercy Corps (www.mercycorps.org), UNICEF (www.unicefusa.org), Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org) and SPCA International (www.spcai.org). Or you can help with the rebuilding effort through Habitat for Humanity (http://share.habitat.org/globalvillage) or volunteer via the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (www.nvoad.org). Locally, the southern tip of Florida is in need of volunteers. Consider participation through Volunteer Florida (www.volunteerflorida.org/irma).
The 2017 hurricane season has been absolutely devastating, but it is always inspiring to see communities come together in times of such great tragedy to help those in need. We’ve done quite a bit, but we’re not finished yet.