Blueprints After Irma

Hurricane Irma has everyone’s rapt attention. Her wrath on the state of Florida is consuming my every waking moment. It’s tough to look away when the wind and rain is hurdling debris, trees and parts of buildings down the streets. The newscasters are out in full force attempting to stand upright while the wind and rain try to beat them senseless. It’s all devastating and awful and makes our little bit of rain bearable in comparison. There’s always someone who knows someone who lives in Florida, and even way up here in Newfoundland, the lives of those we know are touched by this storm. The people who chose to take refuge on their boats seem odd and careless to us, seemingly neglectful and much too cavalier for such a huge storm that is barrelling towards them, but that was their choice to make. Cross your fingers and hope for the best.  
Now that the cleanup has begun in several parts of Florida, the devastation of the hurricane is impossible to ignore. Boats are strewn about like miniature toys a child has grown bored with; in places where there should be water there is now only barren mud and soil, and where there should be dry streets, there are floodwaters impersonating rivers. The people who had hunkered down in their boats to ‘wait out’ the storm, are hopefully still alive to tell a terrifying and horrific tale. We still wait to hear about them.
Let’s not forget the first responders who risked their lives to help others who were caught in the midst of a raging storm. Two responders killed while trying to assist a shelter and the other merely trying to get to his job. The storm has taken more than just ‘things’.
The destruction of Irma not only shows us how fleeting our existence really is, but also how vulnerable we are to nature and all of its whims. We have witnessed the decimation of cities and towns across Florida and the Caribbean and the destruction of lives this hurricane has brought. Our survival remains on a precarious ledge between having everything and existing with nothing. How we take advantage of the simplest things like electricity, the ability to shower, clean drinking water and waste management systems. Things we thought we could not live without now seem insignificant in the wake of such destruction. Our cherished belongings seem not so cherished. Our perspective has changed from needing that rare piece of art or that hot pair of shoes, to holding on to our loved ones with fervent desperation. And so it should.
This hurricane, by all accounts, was ferocious and left devastation in its wake that will take time to overcome. It will not be the last ‘monster storm’ or devastating event, on the contrary, it will be one of many. How we choose to respond to such extreme weather events determines our resolve and strength as communities. We rely on each other for kindness, compassion and assistance, not looting, maiming and taking advantage of others when the chips are down.
Pulling together in times of strife and seeking new ways to live with nature in this evolving ever-changing environment has become the new blueprint for our way forward.  
Take care of each other…


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