Growing up in south Florida I have lived through the vicious cycle of hurricane season: the days of panic leading up to landfall, the hours of uncertainty when power goes out, and the weeks of rebuilding it takes to recover from these amazing storms. Without volunteers, the recovery would have taken longer. I understand the importance of citizens being called to action.
When Katrina hit in 2005 I was on my way out of town to leave Florida for good. Instead, I got called into action by a sense of debt from all the volunteers who helped in my neighborhood. I showed up only to be turned away by the armed National Guard. I was to return months later under the hospice of Habitat For Humanity to help rebuild in Slidell, Louisiana. Not the quick response I was looking for, but grateful for giving what I had.
Also in 2005 I left my new home in Colorado to head back to Florida for Hurricane Wilma. It had hit home, and my family was without power due to downed power lines. For the next sixty days Ii worked in rebuilding electrical services, removing downed trees, and living off of MRE’s and canned water. Life wasn’t easy, but I knew it had to be done.
Now it’s 2008 and the gulf coast has been hit by two hurricanes, in quick succession. My heart just aches for those affected, and I know the only way to satisfy my heart is to head down there and give what I have. And that is why I’m willing to sacrifice my job (which I have, as of today) in order to help those folks who are facing the challenges I know so well.