Less than a week ago, the area I call home was ravaged by Hurricane Michael.
Fifteen miles from where my house still sits on its foundation, people are devastated. Their homes cease to exist, some are trapped underneath large oaks that have fallen on their shelters, and there are over 1000 people unaccounted for. Twenty to thirty miles from my house, the towns literally don’t even exist anymore.
We evacuated to Gainesville, FL and were stuck there an extra day because of debris on I-10. I didn’t believe it could be as bad as they made it sound, I-10 is pretty far inland. The day we left for home, it was that bad. The stretch of land between Tallahassee and our exit at Defuniak Springs, was heart wrenching. According to my Apple Watch, my resting heart rate, which is usually in the low 50s, was in the 90s the entire way. I felt sick to my stomach the whole trip and was on the edge of my seat viewing the destruction around me.
There were trees rudely laying on top of single wide trailers. We had to avoid tall pines that had been chopped up to clear the roadway, their discarded corpses placed haphazardly on the side of the road. On either side of the highway, trees were snapped in half like toothpicks.
I immediately knew that the devastation on the coast was going to be unbearable.
When we got home, we felt so grateful to find our house intact.
Other than some water damage in our kitchen floor and a tree down, we were extremely fortunate. Yet just down the street, things were, and are, not alright.
There are over 1000 people unaccounted for, people who stayed for the storm that not only came quickly, but unexpectedly grew past its original Cat 2 to nearly a Cat 5 in mere hours.
This storm was a beast and has been labeled one of the top three storms to ever hit the United States of America.
The devastation is far reaching and catastrophic. Entire homes have been blown across the Panhandle like confetti. Shingles, siding, and framing strewn for miles.
It is a difficult sight to see, and it’s emotional to have been so close to losing absolutely everything. Not everyone can jump out and be boots on the ground, front lines help. Some of us have children, many of us have jobs, and some just don’t have the resources to help.
Then there’s an entire subsection of people who go to these decimated areas, full faces of makeup on, nails did, to hand out water from their Range Rovers and gawk at people who lost everything. These are the people who take smiles-on selfies with what’s left of peoples lives in the background. They have their photos taken in shameless poses pretending to look at the ruins of other people’s misfortunes, and it’s disgusting.
I refuse to post examples of this behavior because it’s so gross.
I think the reason all of this bothers me so much is because it’s shameless. It doesn’t take into consideration the fact that people have lost everything and their lives are on display like they’ve moved into some sort of tragedy zoo. People looking for glory rush to help them photograph themselves “doing the most” so that they receive accolades from their peers. It has nothing to do with the people who have lost everything, because if it did, they wouldn’t be photographing themselves in front of other people’s loss.
To me it feels like going to the funeral of someone who has been murdered and taking selfies with the deceased.
It makes me sick to my stomach.
But what really turns my gut is when I see someone sing praises to God for sparing us. “God answered our prayers!” they say. Or “God was looking out for us!” or any of the other platitudes that thank the Almighty for sparing their belongings.
Because what they’re saying is that the people in to the east didn’t pray hard enough, right? These people’s prayers pushed Hurricane Michael a little further to the east than it was intended to hit because the prayers to the east weren’t strong enough. Or maybe they’re just better Christians than the people to the east. I don’t know. I’ve learned there’s a lot I don’t understand about Christianity, like how someone could actually believe their prayers were answered while thousands of people are unaccounted for, presumably dead, just a few miles down the road.
This world we’re living in post-Hurricane Michael is emotional, but it’s not about you or me. It’s about the victims whose lives are truly turned upside down, and putting them on display for your own good is not the way to help.
If you are looking for genuine ways to help that won’t bring you any glory, here are a few ideas:
Donate through my Amazon Wishlist. These items will come to me and I will distribute them to local organizations as necessary. This is NOT an Amazon affiliate link. This isn’t about me, it’s about the victims. https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2SNOHSCESS0MC
Donate to a local organization already on the ground where most of the funds will go directly tho those impacted: https://www.umcor/org/response
Venmo or PayPal money to me directly.
The money sent to me on Venmo will be used to purchase gift cards to Old Navy, Target, & Walmart so victims of Hurricane Michael can purchase new clothes for themselves or their children.
Locals: make food and drop it off at Ohana where it can be distributed to people who haven’t had a warm meal
Businesses near and far: Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to send monetary or physical donations.