Hurricane Irma sweeps through the coast with starved-dog fury. Trees snap, salty beach waters surge and swell, and an ominous gray haze transforms the Sunshine State into a spastic, smokey hell. I watch the Weather Channel as a newsman stands with bowed legs bracing the ground, his clothes flapping in the high winds.
“Almost a million people without power,” he announces before a map appears on my television showing red ripples and pulsating projections and warnings.
“It’s a time to stay strong, be bold and decisive,” the mayor chimes in.
I’ve been watching every broadcast as meteorologists weigh in and television hosts and commentators bring news, advice and opinions to the masses. I’ve been reading the social media threads as people offer prayers and idiots make judgments — “If you don’t evacuate, you deserve what you get,” one fool said.
But fuel is scarce, highways are crammed and not everyone has the means to travel. In places where evacuation is not mandatory, it seems better to stay with pets, family and friends — to “hunker down,” offer help where it’s needed and brace for impact together.
As I look around, I see compassion and empathy, but I also see cruelty and cynicism.
One Facebook poster documented his journey north as he headed out of Florida to a safer destination. People were behaving badly, he said, and he wondered why buying food felt like a life-or-death scenario.
“Be kind. Stay human,” he said.
So as warnings wail, winds pick up speed and Irma barrels into my area, horns out and bucking, I hope for the best and wish everyone well.
We may lose power; we may lose possessions, but god help us to maintain our humanity.
Kindness will always be free.