Hurricanes- Beyond thoughts and prayers

As I sit here in Florida waiting to find out where Dorian is going to land, I can’t help but think on my past 25 years of living in this state and all the hurricanes

20190831_134814As I sit here in Florida waiting to find out where Dorian is going to land, I can’t help but think on my past 25 years of living in this state and all the hurricanes and tropical storms my daughter and I and our friends have gone through. Most memorable being 2004, the year of Charley, Ivan, Francis and Jeanne and two years ago with Hurricane Irma. The worry, preparation, the storm itself, and then the days and weeks and sometimes months of recovery. Repeated four times in 2004 leaving us all exhausted and in some instances financially fucked. (Hannah and I lived for two months with plywood covering our front windows. Our cozy little duplex looked like a crack den.)

Dorian approaches at the beginning of the month when many working poor are caught in a struggle those who have never experienced hurricanes don’t think on…do I pay rent, or spend money that is not in the budget on stocking up for what could be weeks of power outages and lost work time?

During 2004 I was a single mother (in the purest sense of the phrase) with a 13 year old daughter and two pets. At the best of times finances were tight to the point of pain, with little to no money left over each month for emergencies. Sadly this is a plight many families in the US deal with. Statistics vary, but most studies put the percentage of families with little to no savings at 30-40%.

In our little families case, as soon as I would manage to sock some away an emergency such as an unexpected layoff or medical emergency would eat it all up and I would be back to zero.

Pereparing for a hurricane is an expensive outlay. If you choose to evacuate there is the gas for the car, money for food and accomodations, leaving this a far too expensive option for many. If you choose to hunker down, there is canned food, candles, water, plywood, batteries, propane, flashlights, extra medication, pet food..etc. Estimates range from spending $200 to $5000 getting ready for a major hurricane. For a family on a tight budget that extra $200 can mean difficult choices and possible long term financial difficulties. Factor in the possiblity of facing days or weeks being unable to work due to the storm and the damage a hurricane can create can go far beyond the physical.

I mention all of this for one purpose. If you live in the area projected to be within the possible strike zone and have the financial means…I ask you to consider those who may not be as blessed as yourself. When buying your supplies pick up a few extras to donate to a local food bank either before or immediately after the storm passes. Perhaps even donate a few dollars so the charities can help out those who need a financial boost. You could help keep a family on their feet, in their home and safe at least from one of the devastating effects the storms can wreak.

If you are far from the effects of the hurricane, perhaps gift friends or family who could be struggling from the aftermath of a storm a gift card so they can purchase necessities without depleting their already strained bank accounts.

After all, we all are in this together. Communities thrive when their members remember to think of the welfare of the many instead of just the one. Thankfully my daughter and I are in better financial shape than we were in those difficult times, and I am grateful that now I can be the one to offer help instead of needing it.

Stay safe everyone.


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