The American Spirit is Alive and Well!
by Eve Gonzales
As the whole state of Florida and Georgia awaited Irma to come on shore, after more then a week of preparation for her appearance, she finally came packed with furry and unpredictability sending fear into many who stayed behind to weather the storm.
Even for many of us seasoned responders – it was a long sleepless night. But, when the morning sun rose – it sent rays of hope shining over all the land. In her wake she left great devastation of property but she also awoke within millions of people something we are known for but sometimes have lost– The Great American Spirit. One where neighbor helps neighbor, community helps community, and county helps county. There is no race, no divide, just beautiful, determined people helping one another.
Our town was hit hard, not as bad as some, but harder than others. We have not heard complaining but praising God. Though homes had trees down on them or flood water standing in them, people praised God, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work. In many places there is still no electric or water and the smell has so much to be desired – but still the American resolve to rebuild and survive continues on.
Within hours of the storm’s furry passing, our disaster relief team was out working. Volunteers were and still are, cutting down trees, clearing roadways, feeding those that lost everything, and hauling household items out of flooded homes. Instead of working with people who were complaining or having the attitude of – “woe is me”, we have worked with those who are saying they are so blessed to be alive. Though destruction has come to their homes, their business, there neighborhoods, and communities they are saying – they are so blessed to be alive! They also comment that others had it so much worse than they did; even though we were looking at their homes that were totally devastated.
I spoke with one couple who had their roof collapse, they lost all their possessions, and yet, they stood on their property and praised God. Their response to me was, “You know, it was just stuff. We are not looking forward to the work but it will be ok”. But then that same couple asked me if I needed anything. Did our team need water or snacks! I told them we were fine so then they asked if they could donate a case of water to give to a family who was hit harder then they were!
As we have gone through the past few days this is the attitude and compassion we have seen. People taking only what they needed and giving us extra of items they have to pass along to others who need it more.
We have people who are volunteering, not because they were not affected by the storm but because they wanted to help and would do their clean up later! When we get into areas, everyone knows the others needs and if they do not have the emergency they take us to those who do. This catastrophic storm did not bring out the worst in man but the best I have ever seen.
I have been in disaster events where it was cut throat and each man for himself but Harvey and Irma have done the complete opposite. The work is long and hard but the love, kindness, compassion, and concern that all the people have for one another is beautiful and encouraging.
I will admit, it was I who made the only complaint I have heard during our entire time of response so far. In all my time and places of response it has been this one that took me to the edge at one moment in time. Never have I ever smelt such a stomach turning odor – that was my complaint. In one area we were working it smelled like a combination of the worst bowel movement anyone had ever had combined with rotting garbage and expelled stomach contents which took me to the brink and I made the only complaint anyone has made – “You have got to be kidding me – the smell is killing me right now”, the others around me agreed, started to laugh, and said they found my weakness! Praise God for peppermint oil!
Today as our teams go out we will be doing whatever is needed. Teams will be hauling debris, cutting more trees, feeding families who are returning to no water, power, or food as well as checking in on the elderly in the outskirts of the county. Soon we will be moving on to other counties that are still not yet open and will continue until we can do no more.
We thank you for your prayers and support as we work to cover as many people as we can in a multi-state disaster event. I am not ashamed to ask for what is needed – money, cleaning supplies, food, and man power. Please find a way and help.
Join us and become part of the revived American Spirit and help us all rebuild.
Thank you and may God bless you all, Eve
Caring Hearts, Inc is a 501-C3. Your donations are tax deductible. If you would like to make a financial donation for the relief efforts you may send a check or money order made out to:
Caring Hearts, Inc
P.O. Box 97
Kingsland, GA 31548