There are many things that can be done to mitigate the problems that come with severe weather. However, as we look back over last year’s Hurricane Michael, it’s clear that nothing can make a community hurricane-proof.
It’s instructive to review the things we got right. The storm knocked out power for more than 50,000 residents in the area. What we did right was have a system in place to call on utility crews from areas outside the storm’s path. With additional crews, an overwhelming challenge was overcome within a few days.
Area government and emergency officials have spent hours reviewing plans and reaction to Hurricane Michael and other strong storms to assess our community’s ability to keep residents safe and address damage quickly. It’s thankless work performed out of the spotlight, but it’s vital — we see the result in the hours and days after nature’s fury.
It’s also good to keep our troubles in perspective, and pay attention to the goodness these trials revealed. Remember with us some of the bright spots after last year’s storm:
-- A young mother and her two children left their home in west Dothan to walk to the home of an older couple down the street, the Caspers. The mom and kids, the Darling family, spent a few hours cleaning up the couple’s debris-strewn yard, a task the homeowners would have found daunting. Mrs. Darling reports that the children had fun. The Caspers will likely never forget their neighbors’ kindness.
-- Early Friday, a drive through the maze of destruction in Dothan’s Garden District revealed a man sitting in the driveway of a home with working power. On a table beside him was a large coffee urn and baked goods available to anyone who needed their morning jolt.
-- In Solomon Park Friday, some residents set up an array of food and put out a call on social media for affected residents to come have lunch. Great minds think alike -- a local insurance agent and his staff set up a food tent as well.
-- Throughout the area, the air buzzed with chainsaws. Some were from tree service companies, but many were ordinary people with power tools and a willingness to help.
-- In Hartford, Tate's Grocery emptied its freezers and set up grills to cook food that might otherwise spoil and provide hot meals for affected residents.
-- Disaster relief teams affiliated with various denominations from around the state made their way to Dothan to lend a hand with tree removal and cleanup. Many also traveled to Southwest Georgia and the Florida panhandle.
It’s no secret that our community has the great fortune to be peopled by generous souls. In trying times, we’re touched by the depth of that generosity.