When it rains, it pours. Recently an endless stream of natural disasters has ravaged the United States and its neighbors, impacting thousands of lives all the way from Houston to San Juan. The results of Hurricane Harvey, Maria, Irma and Jose have been cataclysmic, marking 2017 as one of the worst hurricane seasons in decades. Even weeks after the storm, the death toll continues to rise and many people are still unaccounted for. The grave reality of the situation is setting in, as much of the damage left behind is irreversible. Aerial footage has captured the detrimental effects, showing disturbing scenes of countless communities that were wiped off the map. It is hard to imagine that only weeks ago, there were families inside those homes, families whose lives are now changed forever. We have no control over the forces of nature, and we must accept that nobody is immune to disaster. While houses can be rebuilt, the lives lost will never be replaced.
The scale of the destruction has created a widespread humanitarian crisis, with many left struggling to obtain basic necessities. For the first time in over three centuries, the tiny island oasis of Barbuda is uninhabitable. Over a million people were left without power in Puerto Rico, and potable water is scarce in many regions of the island. FEMA estimated that 25% of the homes in the Florida Keys were completely destroyed, with entire highways submerged under water. More than twenty trillion gallons of rain fell across Texas, yet a staggering 80% of residents do not even have flood insurance. St. Thomas’s only hospital was hit hard, the roads are impassable, and the power grid is completely gone. To make the situation worse, robbery has skyrocketed in many of these areas, as valuable resources are extremely scant.
Hurricanes may have destroyed both homes and lives, but they have helped strengthen solidarity worldwide. In the wake of disaster, compassion has been a ray of light beaming through the never-ending dark clouds. In a world of constant conflict, we were able to put aside our differences and acknowledge that everyone deserves help in times of need. For once, we are all on the same side against nature, as the empathy and selflessness of strangers has been the buoy keeping those affected afloat. Perhaps there is a silver lining, for the charity of others during this grim time reminds us that humanity is still alive.
The Blind Brook community has taken up the call to action, even if we are hundreds of miles away from these areas. Every year the Blind Brook Boys Varsity Soccer squad holds a carwash to raise money for their team. After the train of recent natural disasters, the boys decided that new merchandise could wait, but the people who needed their help could not. “This year we felt it was important to donate to those in need…the money will be of more benefit to the victims,” said junior Zach Kornblum. Their teamwork goes beyond scoring goals on the field, as they were able to raise an astonishing $4,000 in one day.
The car wash was only the beginning of the school community’s effort to lend a hand. The language department collected items such as diapers, batteries, and flashlights to donate to Puerto Rico. They emphasized the need for everyone to ‘contribute a grain of salt’ as together, we have the capability to make a more profound impact. Moreover, Ashley Drazka, a sophomore, organized a bug spray drive for the Island of St. John. She felt that she had a responsibility to do something, as St. John had been her family’s home away from home for over twenty years.
It wasn’t long until Congress began a school-wide initiative to raise money for those affected by the recent natural disasters. Without a second thought, it was decided that the money raised would be equally divided and distributed to charities to support victims in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean. Congress kicked off its Dollars for Disaster Fundraiser at homecoming, raising over $200 that weekend. The fundraiser will be running throughout much of October, and the student body has already raised $600.
While a few hundred dollars may seem insignificant compared to the billions needed for repair, countless people across the country have done the same. If we don’t act, who will? Our small actions have the capability to greatly change lives. The Blind Brook community can’t single handedly change the world, but we can certainly make a dent in it. If our decision to live with empathy and humanity towards all people changes a single life, together we can be stronger than any storm.