After an eye-opening 12-day trip across America, our small family managed to arrive in Palo Alto, California, during a record-breaking heat wave. The usual paradisiacal weather was rudely interrupted by 100-degree-plus temperatures, which are pretty hellish for a community where even the richest don’t bother with air conditioning or ceiling fans.
We quickly decided against moving everything into our second-floor apartment and found a terrific deal in a swanky hotel that was equipped with AC and a pool.
I really can’t complain (though I have, persistently. The heat was the one thing I continually lamented in Macon), however, since the region we left behind received the battering of a decade with Hurricane Irma. I was relieved to see almost all of our friends and family found safe haven from the worst of the path, while feeling deep concern and mild horror at those who decided to stay and bear the worst. Leaving everything you own and know is terrifying, especially when you don’t know what to expect from your new (hopefully temporary) home.
Naturally, my hometown of Macon has been the epitome of welcoming. From afar, I’ve been able to observe all the incredible ways people have worked together to make evacuees and workers feel safe and comfortable. Countless friends have squeezed families, pets and more into their own homes. Volunteers wrapped up bread at the Salvation Army to send to shelters. Nurses signed up for shelter assignments. The Ronald McDonald House welcomed volunteers to prepare meals. The Macon State Farmers Market set up an animal evacuee shelter, where volunteers dropped off truckloads of food and supplies.
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Local businesses have been pitching in too. Saralyn Collins had her restaurant and catering company, Grow, catering events for first responders, feeding any evacuee that came to her restaurant and making sure her employees were safe and sound too (a concept many bosses neglect to think about when opening in crazy weather conditions).
As she posted Sunday evening, as everyone was hunkering down with their full houses and battery-powered flashlights, “I hope everyone can feel the love in our community right now. We'll do what needs doing. We'll help each other. We aren't scared of much. We may not always be the prettiest girl at the dance, but we got moves you can't even imagine.”
Contact Leila Regan-Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org.