Hurricane Matthew’s Devastation Causes Us To Put Aside All Differences

Hurricane Matthew Gives Us A Chance To Come Together

Our political opinions may be different. You may think Donald Trump is the answer. You may be a Hillary Clinton supporter. We may argue. We may let our emotions occasionally run unchecked.
But there also comes a time when none of that matters, and we are there.

I am talking, of course, about Hurricane Matthew.

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As I write this, Matthew is closing in on the east coast of Florida, expected to scrape along the length of the state as it heads northward – perhaps, as some models project, to return with a second assault in a few days after it boomerangs in the Atlantic.

What seems certain is that Floridians are going to suffer great damage from his Category 4 monster. Gov. Rick Scott warned people in the path of the storm to evacuate, emphasizing, “This is going to kill people.”

The National Weather Service called Matthew “extremely dangerous, life-threatening.” If that wasn’t strong enough, the NWS added, “Locations may be uninhabitable for an extended period.”
What this means is that we are going to need each other.

APTOPIX Haiti Hurricane Matthew

State and federal assistance will be coming. The Red Cross and other agencies will be ready. And if history is any guide, Floridians will be there with outstretched hands where help is needed.
Events like this remind us who we really are.

People will volunteer. People will make room for each other. We will learn, again, what really matters. We saw that 24 years ago when Hurricane Andrew obliterated parts of South Florida. We saw the outreach when Hurricane Charley washed ashore at Port Charlotte in 2004.

Maybe it’s a fluke of timing that the second presidential debate is scheduled Sunday night. Thousands of Floridians won’t care. They’ll either be cleaning up, coping with flooding, or wondering when power to their homes can be restored.

People won’t care about Trump’s tweets. They won’t care about Hillary’s emails.

But they will care about each other, because in something like that may be all we have.

About 20 million people call Florida home and more are moving here all the time. That’s larger than the population of Romania. Diversity like that makes us a cauldron of differing opinions and outlooks. As a storm like this reminds though, we share many of the same things.
We are compassionate.

We are generous.

For all of its natural beauty, living in Florida can be dangerous. That’s especially true along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, where too many people live too close to the water. When you combine storm surge with winds from a storm like Matthew, it can be a catastrophe.

Like I said, I am writing this before we know the full extent of Matthew’s fury or intent. But whatever happens, I can safely predict one thing. Floridians will meet this challenge, because that’s who we are.

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After nearly 42 years as both a sports and news columnist, along with a variety of other roles, at the Tampa Tribune, Joe Henderson brings his slant on politics and sports to NewsTalkFlorida.com and SportsTalkFlorida.com. Originally from the small town of Lebanon, Ohio, Joe resides outside of Tampa with Elaine, his wife of more than 35 years. Their two grown sons stop by when there is time, and their faithful Watch Cat, Sassy is always on guard.