Hurricane delivers a call to action

You can always rebuild a home.

Those words are certainly true and certainly apply as a reasonable reaction to the devastation we’re seeing from Hurricane Michael.

They’re just houses. Just wood. Or brick. They mean nothing in the big scheme of things.

“I wasn’t going anywhere,” Leroy Wilson, 74, tells the Washington Post.

“We live on the land where our ancestors were once chattel,” said his son, Lamar. “That’s why they won’t leave. They elected to stay largely because of that lineage.”

More than just wood. Or brick.

The stories from the region are unbelievable, and reveal “the long view” that we so often lack.

The Wilsons, on the other hand, knew they were going nowhere. Cherise Wilson, Lamar’s sister, lost her home, but said she had money to stay in a hotel if she needed to for the time being.

“There are some worse off than us,” she said, “We are blessed.”

But she still wondered where the power company was, and who they were supposed to ask for help, even as her brother calling in long distance, speculated that a predominantly white development about a mile from his parents house would get power first.

Their mother, Annell, chose to take the long view.

“We can wait a minute,” she said. “It just happened yesterday.”

It’s a time for compassion and help. In the Post’s comments section, the debate is about politics.

We should be better. There are people who need help.

  • The MN National Guard is assisting, as are those from other states. It’s such a widespread area that the response will have to be triaged by emergency services. Once things become a little more organized and clear, volunteers will be able to come in and be more effective. It’s going to be a layered response.

    • John


      I’d be willing to bet power companies around the country will be sending line crews too. Those crews will work 16 hours, sleep for 8 in the truck, and then do 16 more. Rinse and repeat, probably for a couple weeks before they get a day off.

      We’ll still hear people complain about how abc got their power back before def. My dad used to coordinate those efforts, and he told me it’s loosely prioritized as follows:

      1) Emergency/Municipal services (i.e. hospitals, nursing homes, water plants)
      2) The big stuff first (i.e. distribution lines, substations, etc.)
      3) The last leg of the power grid (i.e. from the transformer to the house)

      • And the recovery will be faster than Puerto Rico’s recovery because the people in GA and FLA are American citizens.

        /Oh, wait…

        • Gary F

          And municipalities in the coastal mainland USA have been built using products certified as Miami-Dade building code compliant and most if not all have adopted Miami-Dade building codes.

          Puerto Rico does now, but previously they only built to certain UBC standards.

        • John

          This is true.

          It will also be faster because it’s a whole lot easier to get line crews, trucks, and supplies from the north to the south than it is to get them from anywhere to a smallish mountainous island.

          But mostly, your comment is the main reason.

  • The Resistance

    I heard several people on the news say they didn’t leave because they didn’t have gas money. Wow. That really says something about the state of this country for those living on the margins. Risking their lives because they don’t have $20 to their name.

    • Veronica

      And unfortunately, after Katrina we saw how poorly any mass evacuation attempts can go.

      • The Resistance

        Amen to that. If there’s one thing we excel at in this country, it’s not learning lessons from the past.
        It seems lately that FEMA needs to have a permanent fleet of Greyhounds ready to evacuate people from the disaster that strikes every day with a Y in it.

        • Veronica

          That’s a very good idea. You could easily make sure these buses also have food and water stocked at all times.

        • Jack Ungerleider

          As an aficionado of rail travel (I know, I live in the wrong country) I felt that if we had a stronger regional passenger rail system these kind of evacuations would be smoother. Understanding that is a dream that won’t happen anytime soon I wondered if FEMA should develop a “people container”. Something the size of a standard shipping container that holds almost as many people as the standard motor coach (more if you can make it a double decker) that fits on a freight rail container transport. Now you can get the equivalent of multiple busloads of people out of an area without impacting the roads. (I first had this idea hearing about the backups and delays of people trying escape Houston ahead of Hurricane Rita. It was one of the first times they opened all lanes on a highway to go the same direction.)

          • The Resistance

            I like your idea. But that would require planning and foresight, which we’re not good at. Buses are cheap and available and we can’t even do that. You’re talking about a country that can barely avoid government shutdowns during single party rule. Although our paper towel distribution system has markedly improved during recent disasters.

    • Jeff C.

      I keep hearing about how great the US’ economy is, but those who say that seem to be completely unaware of the people who can’t afford to evacuate — people who literally have nothing to loose. It seems like the chasm between the haves and the have-nots keeps getting bigger and that only one of those groups is benefiting from the good economy. 🙁

  • The WAPO has removed subscription requirements for Hurricane Michael articles, FYI. You can read them in their entirety from the source.

  • AL287

    After Hurricane Katrina, an architectural firm designed a house called a “Katrina” cottage which could withstand winds of 150 mph.

    They were sold in kits by Lowe’s much like the Sears houses and they came in various sizes from a one-bedroom to a three-bedroom.

    Like many innovative ideas, once the initial interest waned they passed into history.

    It might be time to bring them back.

  • lindblomeagles

    The Floridians, sadly and tragically, are not the only ones still needing help. Puerto Rico still hasn’t gotten back on its feet, despite Trump’s pronouncement that his administration has done a fine job there. NPR informed the public of that despicable nugget last month or so.