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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Lessons From The Storm /   Editorial List

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 Lessons From The Storm

Donna, Isabel, Betsy, Inez, David, Andrew, Frances, Jeanne, Katrina, Wilma and Matthew. This is not an invitation list for a family reunion, just a list of the hurricanes that I have been lucky(?) enough to live through.  Since I was born, I have never missed being there when a hurricane hit my neck of the woods in Southeast Florida.  When I graduated from college upstate, I drove back home through the onset of Hurricane David. Years later, when Hurricane Andrew hit, I was home visiting my mother, even though I had lived away from Florida for the previous eight years. (The Chamber of Commerce finally asked if I wouldn’t mind never coming back!)  And after I came back to South Florida to start Today’s Caregiver magazine, I actually moved into my new home in Fort Lauderdale in the eye of a hurricane (don’t ask).

Yet, one thing that has been permanently altered for me after Hurricane Wilma hit my neighborhood in 2005 is my ongoing conversation about creating an informal support network.  Oh, I still believe in the need to have your network in place in case of emergencies, but I have learned something of great value about not being too rigid on the concept of where you will be able find support when needed.  Although the folks I can always count upon came through as expected, I was happily surprised about the nature and direction of much of the support we received. 

As they say, “Good fences make good neighbors,” but once my fence came down, neighbors that I didn’t know before took to hammer and nail and helped us put it back up—not once, but twice. Neighbors that we had never even met before came by and asked if we had ice. When we responded that we had none, they came back two hours later with two bags for us. And, as the power was restored in a checkerboard fashion, some neighbors with and some without, the power cords crossed the street like shoelaces.  Since I have been through my share of hurricanes, I was darn sure that these relationships would inevitably wane as the power came back on and we all returned to our own lives in our air conditioned caves with the doors locked and the televisions running.  But, for the most part, that did not happen. 

Some neighbors have long since moved away, but for those brave few who spent the nights in our shared backyards around makeshift campfires, there is a bond that to this day has not diminished. The next time someone was in need in the neighborhood; I was sure that the help would come swiftly, and it did. And, no matter what part of the world you live in, that’s a hurricane lesson from which we can all learn. 


Gary Barg

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