Hurricane Irma inflicted historical amounts of horror on not only the Caribbean islands, but also Florida. In Barbuda and St. Martin over 90% of the structures were destroyed. In Florida in counties like Monroe, Hendry and Collier, thousands of people were devasted by the massive destruction that was caused by Hurricane Irma.
One of the bright moments of it all, similar to Hurricane Harvey in Texas, people of all ages and races were uniting for one cause. In addition, as First Lady Melania Trump stated, first responders were like ‘guardian angels’ everywhere reaching out to all those victims in need. They were the true spirit of this nation.
H/T Western Journalism:
First responders who put the needs of Americans suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma ahead of all else were “guardian angels to those left with only prayers and hope,” first lady Melania Trump said Thursday upon her return from a first-hand look at some of the damage Irma did to Florida.
“Spending time with the first responders in Texas and Louisiana days ago warmed our hearts to see so many in such a desperate situation responding with kindness, charity and resolve,” Melania Trump said during remarks at a reception given by the White House Historical Association.
During their trips, the first lady and President Donald Trump helped serve meals, met families at damaged churches and sought to boost the morale of victims waiting in shelters for floodwaters to recede.
“We saw that … display of the American character today in Florida,” she said.
“We saw first responders, some of whom went from Harvey’s aftermath directly to the path of Irma helping those in need and serving as guardian angels to those left with only prayers and hope,” she said.
Loss was pervasive everywhere the storms ravaged communities, she said.
“We saw so many who lost so much in these past weeks: a family member, a friend, their first home or a precious keepsake,” she said.
Amid loss and sorrow, she said, there was a shining core beneath that floodwaters could not tarnish.
“But in those very same people, I have seen the true spirit of this nation: an unwavering commitment to overcome, to rebuild, and to renew what was swept away. Together, we all hurt with these victims. And together, we vow to lift our neighborhoods from the deepest of despair,” she said.
The first lady acknowledged that the nation has united to help storm victims.
“I know many of you here tonight have answered the call to help. The victims of these terrible storms told me of their gratitude for the support they are gathering from the nation. On their behalf I say thank you,” she said.
The First Lady said she had been deeply affected by the damage she saw in Florida on Thursday.
“We have certainly seen the unforgiving side of Mother Nature these past few weeks, and my thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families so deeply affected by both Harvey and Irma,” she said upon her return from Florida.
“I will continue to receive updates from FEMA, and lend my voice, time and resources to help those who need it most.”
In all, Irma has so far claimed at least 30 people in the U.S. and at least 44 people across the Caribbean, though the number will surely go up as the floodwaters recede. And yet the undeniable fact is that things could have been worse–much worse. Irma was the most powerful hurricane recorded in the open Atlantic in the satellite era: it spent a record three consecutive days as a Category 5 storm and maintained wind speeds of at least 185 m.p.h. (298 km/h) for a record 37 hours. It made landfall in the mainland U.S. in a state that is home to more than 20 million people with more than $1.5 trillion worth of vulnerable property on its two southern coasts.
The Sunshine State didn’t break; its cities didn’t tumble. Yes, roughly 12 million Floridians lost power; yes, up to 7 million were evacuated or dislocated; yes, up to 600 shelters had to open across the state. But the shelters did open–fast; the people in harm’s way did evacuate; and the first responders were there when they needed to be there.
Brock Long, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated “over 34,000 were deployed to Irma.”
Department of Defense mobilized quickly and agilely too. Nearly 21,000 military personnel deployed to the Irma-affected region.
In the week before Irma hit, Florida Power & Light, the state’s biggest electricity provider, sent out an appeal to other states for “restoration forces”–utility trucks, tree trimmers, linemen and other personnel from power companies. Ultimately, that appeal produced a force of nearly 20,000 people, many of whom were on loan from utility companies as far away as California, Wisconsin and 28 other states.
In addition President Trump added recently,
“We’ve seen the devastation,” Trump told reporters after arriving in Fort Myers. “We’re going to see some more of it now, unfortunately.”
The president expressed his appreciation for first responders and state officials grappling with the destruction from the hurricane.
“I just want to thank everybody,” Trump said.
In Lee County, which includes Cape Coral and Fort Myers, the Florida Emergency Management Agency said 66 percent of the area’s 290,000 electrical customers were still without power Wednesday. Widespread outages led to long lines outside of the relatively few stores, gas stations and restaurants that had reopened.
The situation was even worse to the south in Collier County, home to Naples. Days after Irma passed, almost 80 percent of homes and businesses were still without electricity, and floodwaters still covered some communities entirely.
Trump later tweeted her thanks to the group and said that she and President Trump were “honored to call the White House home.”
Along with the President and First Lady, many Floridians are saying ‘thank you’ to the first responders….who were there and acting as ‘guardian angels’ to many victims in need.
The first responders and the volunteers have showed everyone around the world, in times like these, Americans can and do unite as one. That’s the true spirit of our nation.
God Bless America!
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