Here in Northern California, we’re all too familiar with the nature’s capacity for devastation.
We’ve endured earthquakes and floods and, more recently, horrific wildfires. We aren’t, thank goodness, accustomed to hurricanes. But we know how it feels when our neighborhoods are ravaged and our lives are upended.
We also know the value — tangible and intangible — when fellow Americans and concerned citizens of faraway countries reach out to help in the aftermath of a disaster.
Hurricane Florence reached the U.S. mainland Friday, with 90 mph winds and waves approaching 12 feet. Although it was later downgraded to a tropical storm, it still was expected to dump as much as 30 inches of rain in 24 hours in some places along the North and South Carolina coasts.
More than 1.7 million people are under evacuation orders, with catastrophic flooding and widespread power outages expected as the storm slowly works its way inland. Damage is likely to be tallied in the tens of billions of dollars.
Unlike an earthquake or a wildfire, there’s nothing sudden about a hurricane.
Weather satellites tracked Florence’s advance across the ocean for days as coastal residents and first responders prepared, accompanied by climate change debates and President Donald Trump’s insistence that reports of an inept federal response and more than 2,900 deaths in Puerto Rico after last year’s Hurricane Maria are partisan smears.
With the storm battering the Atlantic coast, it’s time to hit the pause button on politics. What’s important now is ensuring that victims get the relief they need.
As we know, grueling challenges lie ahead for people and communities in the path of the hurricane. Houston is struggling to repair damage from Hurricane Harvey, which swamped large parts of the nation’s fourth-largest city 13 months ago. It took 11 months to restore power to all of Puerto Rico after Maria, and only a small fraction of homes have been rebuilt here since October’s firestorm.
Soon we will see signs reading “Carolina Strong,” and we’ll have a better grasp of everything that means after seeing our community rally over the past year.
We also know that “Sonoma Strong” came with a lot of outside help — first responders and utility repair crews came from around the state and as far away as Australia, the Red Cross staffed shelters and distributed food, water and clothing to people displaced from their homes, and ordinary people wrote checks to support relief programs.
In the coming days, weeks and, yes, months, residents of North and South Carolina, and most likely other states, will need help to recover from this fierce storm.
Volunteers already are on the way from California, according to news accounts. If you want to donate, you can find a list of reputable charities proving hurricane relief at charitynavigator.org or at nvoad.org, the website of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. The comeback will start when the storm passes. Unfortunately, that may be several days away.
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