Just a year ago, Hurricane Irma pounded the entire state of Florida with powerful winds, heavy rains that resulted in flooding, and major damage to homes and businesses alike. While much of our state has recovered, or are in the process of recovering, we are no stranger to the catastrophic impact of a hurricane on daily life of residents in the path of the storm. In our time of need, states surrounding us offered a helping hand and support, whether it be countless linemen that gave their time and efforts to restore our power more quickly, relief organizations that sent food, water,r and clothing, or simply friends and neighbors out of state that offered a place of refuge for those who chose to evacuate. Now, Hurricane Florence is threatening our neighbors to the north, and we have a chance to pay back some of the kindness shown to us last year. So, how can we help those preparing to go through a storm of this magnitude?
First, a friendly word of encouragement and some advice based from experience can go a long way. If you have friends or family who have never ridden out a storm like this before, let them know they'll likely be ok, and offer some pointers on preparing. No one knows hurricanes like Floridians! Tips like stocking up on more water than you think you'll need, non perishable food items, flashlights and batteries, etc. as well as charging all devices ahead of the storm are very helpful for those who have never had to do anything like this in the past. Additionally, your advice could help them get ahead of the game and purchase their supplies before the stores are overrun and shelves empty out. Offer a listening ear if they're feeling anxious, and give insight on ways they can best feel prepared and ready for Florence to come into town.
If you have the means, offering your own home as a place of safety is often appreciated. Many people haven't budget for multiple days in a hotel, and if you pair that with the gas money needed to travel, they might be tempted to ride out the storm even if in an unsafe location. By offering your home, you take away the financial obligation of evacuating, meaning they're free to make the safest choice, not just the most affordable. For those of us here in Central Florida, we are (for once) a safe distance from the storm's impact, which means many locals could offer this gesture of kindness.
Donate and volunteer. If you can, volunteer with local relief agencies in your area to pack trucks with water and other needed supplies. These organizations often go in after the storm to help with recovery efforts and to assist those who are running out of supplies and are unable to get more. In addition to your time, donating monetary gifts, or donating actual supplies like cases of water, canned goods, diapers, etc. go a long way in helping them help other people. In Winter Haven, Lakeland, and surrounding towns, call your favorite local missions, churches, and relief organizations and find out if they have plans in place to offer support before and/or after the storm. If not, you could be the catalyst that starts a drive for needed items in our community!
Finally, practice kindness. While we might not be preparing for the storm this time around, we remember well the stress and anxiety that come along with a hurricane of this magnitude. Instead of getting frustrated by heavy traffic caused by people feeling the storm, take a minute to let some people in front of you on the highway. When you're tempted to complain that your store is out of a particular item because the excess was shipped up north, instead be thankful that your home and community isn't threatened this time around. There is always a way to practice kindness, and that is perhaps the most important thing you can remember during any type of crisis.
Newton Peach Marketing is proud to be a small business in the heart of Winter Haven, and we believe in supporting our neighbors, our community, and other local companies and brands. We are trusted by locals because we are locals. As a marketing company based in Florida where severe weather is commonplace at certain times of the year, we have an extra dose of compassion for those preparing for Florence in the coming hours and days. Good luck to our friends and neighbors up North! You are in our thoughts and prayers.