The past few weeks, we have been submerged in hurricane information, and even the library lines written previously by Samantha Roll was hurricane related. Living in Florida, tropical storms are just a fact of life. To get the sunshine, you must go through the rain. Highlands County was blessed, lucky, caught a break, whatever phrase you choose to use to describe the turn Hurricane Dorian made that left us safe and unharmed. As a community, we prepared with water, fuel, and other necessary supplies. We saw updates from many, if not all, of the community agencies that are Highlands County. During the storm, county workers assisted in shelters and worked with others they had never met before the storm. As I saw numerous times shared by many departments on social media, we were #generationprepared (hashtag used on Facebook).
As we reflect on what could have been and what was, it is important to remember that hurricane season is not over. Hurricane season does not end until November 30. We hope that the preparations we’ve taken are cautionary, but remember that this may not be the last hurricane we prepare for this season. Remember, the items that were purchased for the hurricane (water, nonperishables, other miscellaneous supplies) have long shelf lives and will save you time and money for any future storms. Keep those supplies to stay prepared for what may come in the future.
For those that didn’t prepare well, or didn’t know what was needed to prepare, there are resources abounding. At the Avon Park Public Library, we have a display with supply checklists, shelter list (if/when necessary), and other pamphlets of important information. If the Avon Park Public Library is not the library you visit, staff at all seven of the Heartland Library Cooperative branches can assist and information is also available online.
The website, https://www.floridadisaster.org/, has ample amounts of information. You can create a hurricane plan, find supply checklists, and much more to always stay #generationprepared. Another way to stay prepared is to stay updated with information provided by the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and other government agencies. The HCBCC’s website had a link on the front page to information pertaining to Hurricane Dorian. Information included shelter listings, shelter guidelines, and much more. Social media, which isn’t for everyone, can be a tremendous help during a time of crisis or natural disaster. Following the Facebook pages of Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Highlands County Sheriff’s Department, Highlands County School Board, local city pages, the local radio stations, Highlands News-Sun, and local law enforcement pages gives you access to information in real-time, as it is shared. Other great social media accounts to follow for information are your favorite news networks, weather stations, and even your favorite meteorologists. In this era of technology, resources are available at the tip of your fingers.
Technology also brings us the ability to connect with loved ones in other locations. I think technology has allowed us to also assist other places dealing with natural disasters. Videos and pictures shared are visual reminders of what could have been for us, and create empathy in the hearts of people who need to see it to believe it. Right now the Bahamas are struggling, but fighting to recover. According to CBS News, Hurricane Dorian was battering the Bahamas, and at times stationary, for at least 48 hours (https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/hurricane-dorian-update-bahamas-damage-florida-landfall-latest-track-path-models-forecast-2019-09-04/). The images are astounding, but this same technology which allows us to prepare and connect will allow you to assist, if able. CNN has an article dedicated to ways we can assist those in need (https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/03/us/iyw-how-to-help-hurricane-dorian-victims-trnd/index.html). Agencies, communities, companies, and individuals statewide, possibly even nationwide and internationally are pulling resources together to help those in need. Again, social media is a great way to see who already is planning to send assistance and what donations are needed for the cause. I recently saw on the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, a few different local ways to help the Bahamas. Keep in mind what YOU would NEED if Hurricane Dorian had turned and hit our area for 48 hours, instead. This article by CBS News makes some great points, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/best-intentions-when-disaster-relief-brings-anything-but-relief/. Remember, though, always contact the organization or group to know specifically what they are collecting.
As a community, we were and will continue to be #generationprepared. As a community, we were #blessed (in my opinion). As a community, we can be #giving, #caring, and #helpful. As Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy I used to think that strong meant having big muscles, great physical power; but the longer I live, the more I realize that real strength has much more to do with what is not seen. Real strength has to do with helping others.” Let’s help each other!