We watched in horror and awe as Hurricane Harvey battered the Houston area. Now, not even two weeks later, it is Florida’s turn.
As I write this column, Irma has yet to make landfall in the United States. But we’ve already seen the destruction she caused in tiny island nations. We have either evacuated or hunkered down and prayed for the best.
Like he did last year during Matthew and Hermine and other storms prior, Gov. Rick Scott has shined in the lead up to this latest episode. He is focused, organized and decisive. He is a leader.
I’ve written before that I think his personality is well suited to times of disaster. Here, the governor’s tunnel vision is an asset. So is his military experience. His faults — shaky public speaking and a sometimes distant bedside manner — are irrelevant.
Without knowing what kind of havoc Irma will wreak across Florida, I hesitate to congratulate our governor or anyone else too much in advance.
Irma will pass relatively quickly. But it may take days, even weeks, to recover from what this hurricane leaves behind. The flooding. The debris. The buildings and roads crumpled by tornado-force winds.
We don’t know what Irma has in store for the Sunshine State.
People are already doing the right things by working together. Candidates have suspended their campaigns. Instead of emailing supporters to ask for money they are sending links about hurricane kits and where to find shelter.
It looks like the various local governments, state agencies, utility companies and others in the private sector are working together. Perhaps they learned some lessons from when communications broke down last year. Bickering and grandstanding don’t help anyone.
Hurricane Harvey provided us so many examples of the goodness of people, even when they were facing some of the worst days of their lives. We saw families rescued by strangers on jet skis or in canoes. I watched a video of the kind mattress store owner who opened his showrooms as shelters, and it made me cry. Mosques, churches and synogagues were staffed by volunteers who had lost everything.
Floridians are already prepared to do the same if it comes to that. And we will. I pray that you’re reading this from a place that is warm and dry, and that you and your loved ones weather the storm safely.
Tia Mitchell: (850) 933-1321