I experienced so many emotions this week. Hurricane Michael formed quickly and appeared to be coming straight for us. With each new tropical update, Michael strengthened and my fear rose higher and higher. As the final path was plotted, I let out a deep sigh of relief. We were spared.
Fast forward to Saturday. My husband and I drove over to Marianna to help some friends. Acres of full grown pines were snapped off with none left standing. Billboards and road signs were no longer there. Businesses, houses, schools and churches were severely damaged by wind and trees. There wasn’t a neighborhood in town without some sort of damage. 50 miles from the coast, and yet this little town was not spared.
As we drove through neighborhoods, tears fell from my eyes. Power poles broken in two, lines hanging, blocking the road, and so many trees down that some areas were completely impassable. Lovely old neighborhoods that were once filled with bikes, cars, and children now laid in ruin. Beautiful old pines and oaks that proudly stood to offer shelter and shade now laid awkwardly on top of houses, sheds, and porches; some even blocking entrances, trapping the owners inside.
Chainsaws, generators, heavy equipment and sirens were the music that I heard as we wove our truck through tiny trails between fallen trees and hazardous debris. The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. How could such a perfect day exist when this community was facing such destruction and loss?
Questions rose from people that we encountered and no one knew the answers. When would the power be restored? When was school starting back? Where could I buy gas? Were there any restaurants open that were serving hot meals? When will I be able to return to work? What do I do now? Where do I even start? When will life be back to normal? I had no answers as each person asked the same things. I felt absolutely helpless. How does a whole community just start over?
The drive home was quiet as my mind replayed conversations and images. I searched for a lesson or direction, anything to take away from the experiences of the day. I kept coming back to the phrase that motivated us to go over there in the first place: Do Something. It does not have to be extravagant or impressive, it just needs to happen. All of us are able to do something, no matter where we find ourselves in this cycle of life. Cut a tree, move a limb, make a call, feed a family, open a door, pack a box, meet a stranger, chase a cow, pass out water, sharpen a saw, fix a fence, wash some clothes, share your stuff, open your home, write a letter, buy some gas, hold a hand, hug a neck, cry some tears, pray for relief, rescue an animal, donate your money, donate your time, donate your talents. Just do something.
As we stand face to face with this tragedy that is right next door, let us do everything we can to help our neighbors. From Panama City Beach all the way up through South Georgia, our neighbors need our helping hands. So yes, let’s feel sad and mourn the loss for a moment. But we can’t stay in that helpless daze, we need to jump right in and make a difference. We must be the change. Be the difference. Be the light. Bring some hope. Do Something.