The last few days have been a little crazy due to Hurricane Irma. USF was closed for several days so that students and faculty could have time to safely evacuate, prepare, and return home. Today is my first day back since all the craziness began. Thankfully, I was able to safely evacuate to Jacksonville and returned to find no damage to my apartment. I checked in with my fellow coworkers throughout the storm and, to my knowledge, everyone is safe and sound. We were lucky. Many of us only experienced power outages due to the storm. Whereas, people further south experienced much more. The Florida Keys, Marco Island, Naples, Fort Myers, etc were devastated. We also must not forget those in the Caribbean Islands, Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, etc.
This will be a time of rebuilding for many places. Some will still be feeling the effects of Hurricane Irma months later. From a social work perspective, I think of this from many different angles. I think not just about homes being destroyed and having to rebuild, but I think about one’s ability to rebuild their home. Financially, this may not be an option for some. Not everyone has insurance or savings to bank on. How are these people going to be helped?
There are health perspectives to think about as well. There are places with sewage leaks. People are living among hazardous sewage and breathing in potentially toxic fumes. Diseases will follow as a result of living among these contaminants.
Many places are under a boil water notice because the water has been contaminated. What about people without power? How will they boil water? What if there are no supplies, such as bottled water, left to purchase? For those fortunate enough to have generators, this could solve some problems. But what happens if the gas runs out and there is none left to buy? Or what if the generator’s fumes causes health issues for those in the home?
There are many things to think about. People’s lives will change because of Hurricane Irma, similarly how people’s lives will change because of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. We need to come together and do what we can for those in need.
So as I am getting back in the swing of things because I was not greatly affected by the storm, I am thinking about those who were severely affected. As my life begins to normalize, I am gravely aware of those who may not experience “normal” for a long time to come. Be aware. Be supportive. Do what you can.
Just some food for thought,