Harvey and Irma- In Times of Crisis, Let's Show Up

written by Ashley

I love living here in the upstate of South Carolina, but I have to be honest with you- my heart is in Florida. Especially over the past 72 hours. My family and close friends hunkered down through Irma and are now living in her aftermath. Flooding and loss of power are two major issues in the area where I’m from (North East Florida). Most of the state is in some sort of disaster recovery. 

I’ve been glued to my phone to get updates from family. Facebook has been a huge source of updates from people in my hometown. On Tuesday night, a friend posted a picture of a fellow high school classmate rescuing a family whose vehicle was swept away by floodwaters while they were inside. Another person posted a picture of a water bottle shipment at Walmart to tell people to hurry while it was there.  I just got off the phone with my mom who was washing dishes with water she boiled on her gas grill because she’s going on day 4 without power. A gas tanker in our hometown had a police escort as it replenished a gas station to keep people from bum rushing the fuel pumps. 

The past 72 hours since Irma (well really, weeks since Harvey) have brought some heavy images and awful conditions to imagine.  But I’ve also witnessed the most beautiful parts of humanity as people step in and lock arms during crisis. My cousin who is the Mayor of Hawthorne, FL was driving around with sandbags on his trunk to deliver to people. A family in my hometown spent their morning after the storm helping another family cut up and haul off a huge tree from their yard. On my Insta story yesterday I shared a picture of some of our neighborhood boys mowing our other neighbor’s yard. That neighbor had just worked 14 hours restoring cable and internet in the upstate of South Carolina.

Sure, FEMA is going to do a lot of work to help families rebuild, but I also think the impact of a neighbor helping a neighbor is speaking an even louder language of love in our country’s current climate.It can be easy to see so much need, yet not act because, well, where do we even start? The past 72 hours have reminded me to just start somewhere. Anywhere.

The needs may look different depending on where you live, but I have to believe we can offer hope to someone just by showing up.

Also- this is a shout out to the heroes who are restoring power and utilities, officers offering protection and direction, medical staff who are literally keeping people alive in the middle of chaos, and county/school personnel who are away from their families keeping emergency shelters open (my dad and brother in law!). You are all just incredible humans and we are so thankful for you.  

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