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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When Disaster Strikes

So many people do rallies, fundraisers and promotions to raise money for disaster "victims". God bless them, but there is more to charity than money.

While the Red Cross is good about helping people who really can't afford to leave or come back, if you want to help the average Joe, here's what people need.

During a hurricane, flood, tornado or earthquake, evacuees need these things:

• Water
We never seemed to have enough drinkable water. If you meet a hurricane "victim" offer them a case of water to take back with them.

• Fuel and containers
It was soooo hard to get gas during Hurricane Rita, Ike too. Gas stations went above and beyond to restore power to their facilities, but supply was still limited. If you didn't get your gas early in the morning, you went without.

During Rita, we went back to SE Texas with as many filled gas cans as we could. But what we really had trouble finding were the actual containers. Greg came up to me in Dallas to regroup, and no where within a 60 mile area could we find gas cans. When my friend Suzy found out I was looking to borrow some gas cans, her church gave us six FILLED gas containers. They wouldn't even take our money.

• Communication
Most people have the money to ride out a disaster. It hurts us badly, but we don't need government assistance. We need to be able to reach our bank, our families and our insurance companies. During Ike, AT&T set up emergency stations so people could make phone calls.

During Rita, every radio DJ in the entire three-county area teamed together on the one working station and manned the station 24 hours a day to keep us up to date on progress and where to find gas, water and ice. I appreciated this a lot. It was a life saver. You feel so isolated after a disaster, you need to be reminded that you're not alone.

If you run into someone evacuating a disaster, what they need is a place to rest, some information about your local community (like where the bank and grocery stores are) and a friendly smile.

The government and local communities were excellent in staging preparations. You knew you were going to get socked, but at least work crews moved in quickly to restore the infrastructure. Big hugs to every utility worker and the debris removal people who braved our bird-size mosquitoes and sweltering heat. You are real heroes in my eyes.

Did you notice I put victims in quotes? I hate that word. A victim is a casualty of disaster. I didn't notice anyone like that after Rita or Ike. Even the people who lost their homes. We aren't victims. We're survivors.

And because no one can say I don't have a sense of humor when it comes to disasters, I will pass along something we got in our email from a fellow trooper.

You know you're from the Gulf Coast if:

1. You have FEMA's number on your speed dialer.

2. You have more than 300 'C' and 'D' batteries in your kitchen drawer.

3. Your pantry contains more than 20 cans of Spaghetti O's, Vienna Sausages or Spam.

4. Your social security number isn't a secret, it's written in Sharpie on your arms.

5. You are on a first-name basis with most of the people at Home Depot.

6. You will wait in line for hours to pay $4.00 for a gallon for regular unleaded.

7. You own more than three large coolers.

8. You have 2-liter Coke bottles and milk jugs filled with water in your freezer.

9. Three months ago you couldn't hang a shower curtain; today you can assemble a portable generator by flashlight.

10. You catch a 13-pound red fish - in your house.

11. You can recite from memory whole portions of your homeowner's insurance policy.

12. At local gatherings, women are attracted to the guy with the biggest chainsaw.

13. You have had tuna fish more than 5 days in a row.

14. Someone comes to your door to tell you they found your roof.

15. Your drive-thru meal consists of MRE's and bottled water.

16. Your child's first words are 'hunker down'.

17. Having a tree in your living room does not necessarily mean it's Christmas.

A few more weeks and hurricane season will be over for another year. Yay!


Anonymous said...

So glad you still have your sense of humor, Maria! You're a trouper.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Daw! Good to hear from you!

After the last six weeks, my sense of humor may be the only thing I have left. LOL!

Things are getting better. I hope to report final success in a week or two.


Heather Moore said...

Very funny. Even though I'm not there, I can only imagine! I was in Hurricane Iniki (Hawaii) about 14 years ago--never forgot.

Maria Zannini said...

I think there is nothing scarier than facing a hurricane if you're living on an island. There's no place for you to hide.