Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shining a Light: Hurricanes, the Amish, and Helping Those in Need ... by Cate Nolan

Back in the middle of the summer when I was assigned this date for my post, I couldn't have imagined how timely the topic would be.

Nine years ago this month, Hurricane Ike tore its way into Texas, destroying homes, flooding communities, and ripping apart lives.

I didn't experience Ike personally. I was living in the northeast and was only affected in an emotional way by the heartbreaking stories I saw on the news.

Four years later, I experienced a little of what it meant to be hit by a hurricane when Sandy barreled her way into New York. We live on a higher elevation, so I was fortunate to be spared damage, but I spent a lot of time helping out with meals and supplies for those whose lives were torn asunder. My school took in students from flooded schools, some of my friends lost everything. Sandy was personal.

Fast forward.

When I began to research events in Texas to use for the Love Inspired Suspense I'm writing, I came across a news story that spoke to my heart. It was the heartwarming tale of groups of Amish men and women who traveled to Texas to help rebuild in the wake of Ike.

The Houston Chronicle did a story on them: Amish volunteers help Gulf Coast ranches rebuild After Ike.


This wonderful video from Texas Country Reporter shows an Amish family rebuilding homes in Crystal Beach, TX. The family applied Amish building knowledge and principles to help rebuild homes. They used the same kind of timber frame construction they use on barns. I loved this quote, “Our attitude to building is to build it forever…like Noah’s Ark”



Breaking Christian News (BCN) had a story called Building Fences in Texas Until the Cows Come Home - Amish Volunteer Labor to Ranchers Affected by Hurricane.  Many of the Amish who came to help were suffering their own problems with unemployment back home, so they came to see how they could help Texas.

For my story, I played What if...they liked it and stayed.

But today's post isn't about my story. I want to shine a light on the everyday heroism of the people who help out in times of great need.

In the past few weeks, there have been so many stories of tragedy and natural disasters, but the stories that stand out for me are about people who are helping care for their brothers and sisters in need. I saw it here in NYC after Sandy, soup kitchens springing up in churches and temples where people of different faiths worked side by side to feed the hungry. Day after day, people were donating supplies to those who struggled with cleanup. Volunteers walked up endless flights of stairs in buildings without electricity to bring supplies, medical care, and food to those whose health prevented them from climbing down. Love in action.

Volunteers can't make up for what was lost, but I believe they offer something so vital - a light in the darkness, a presence that promises you are not alone, spirits united by love.

And because we're romance writers, I can't help but be charmed by some of the stories I've seen lately:

The Gainesville, FL Police Department has won a whole legion of fans with the humorous posts on their Facebook page. Last night they were joking that they had to put out cougar protection for their officers because of all the adoring posts and comments on their page. The response has been so awesome that they're planning a calendar to raise funds for hurricane relief.

USA Today did an article - "Hot Cops Grab Internet's Attention"

But before Gainesville, there was #RescueBae, a man who has an entire hashtag devoted to him on Twitter.

He is Raz Halili, son of immigrants, a man who used his boat and jet ski to rescue flooded Texans because he wanted to give back some of what this country gave his family. One woman's internet search for the "hot rescue guy" who helped her friend turned him into an internet sensation. He just wanted to help people.


Teacher me loved this story of the nun with the chainsaw who was clearing debris outside her school!

She said she was raised in Texas to, "Do what you need to do to help other people out."


I particularly love a story that showed up in my FB feed this morning. It was about Chad  Harrison, an ordinary man from Valdosta, GA. He'd heard so many horror stories of evacuees being stuck on the highway that he grabbed some friends and some food and held a cookout along I-75. They served free food to over 2,000 people!



But these are just the people whose heroics have come to the public's notice through cyberspace. There are so many anecdotes, small stories. So many people praying, donating, doing whatever they can to help.


Have you been affected by the recent storms or fires or any other event? Please tell us so we can pray for you.

 Do you have stories of people who have volunteered to help?

It's good, in this world in which we live, to be reminded of the good that lives in people's hearts and of the people who so willingly put their lives on hold to serve others.


Edited:

I had to come in and add in this story. Trish Milburn posted a link to the New York Times article today. Reading the story brought tears to my eyes. Such a simple act that meant so much because it showed that someone cared.

A woman in Maryland saw a news story about a woman in Houston who had lost everything, including coffee cups she had inherited from her mother. The Maryland woman found the cups on eBay and had them sent to the Houston woman. I think this quote sums up exactly the point I wanted to make with this post. "I desperately wanted to replace that broken cup. The world is a broken place, but also a place of great strength, dignity, and personal courage. That’s what I wanted to honor"

20 comments:

  1. There has been so much negativity over the last year that it has restored my hope in people. Sometimes it is in the midst of tragedy that the light shines the brightest. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I agree, Lisa. The negativity seems to be all we see sometimes, but it's good to remember there are so many good people striving to help every day. So often those good deeds are overlooked because they're not being done for any acknowledgement, but just because someone needs something.

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  2. Cate, thanks so much for sharing. It's so refreshing to hear stories of good like the ones you've shared. With so much bad things happening, we need this. Thanks again.

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    1. You're welcome, Mary. It was a joy for me to write because it allowed me to focus on the good.

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  3. I have no stories to add, only tears in my eyes for the wonderfulness (a word?) of all the people who have helped and continue to help.

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    1. Right, Jean? I find myself tearing up at all these stories of selflessness.

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  4. What a wonderful report, Cate! I have always believed in the good of humanity and stories such as these show that my hope is not in vain. We can all learn from these people!

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    1. Absolutely, Lenora. I'm reminded of my grandmother who, in the days long before audio books, used to take several buses into NYC once a week so she could do recordings of books for blind people. It was a huge chunk of her time, but she did it gladly because it allowed her to share her love of the written word with people who were deprived of the chance to read. That memory has always stayed with me as a shining example of Christian love.

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  5. Thank you, Cate, for sharing these stories. After days on edge as Hurricane Irma struck the Florida Keys, it's a joy to hear of kindness and courage in the midst of destruction. We are safe, and all our neighbors are safe. We learned last night that our home is still standing. Many homes were lost, though, and I grieve for those who lost much.

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    1. You've been on my heart these days, Christine. I'm so relieved to hear your house is still standing. One of the heartbreaking things I've seen over the past weeks is the difference building codes can make. from what I've read and seen, homes that took into account the post-Andrew changes fared far better. Sadly, there is an economic factor at play.

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  6. What a timely post. I'm having my 081 English students write a descriptive essay about Harvey today. When Katrina hit, I did the same. I'm thinking of having my 101 students compare and contrast Harvey and Katrina.
    Though, truly, the one that really brought me to my knees was the Tsunami that hit Japan.

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    1. That's really such a good practice of analytical thinking, Pamela. And yes, that Tsunami - it was almost too big to wrap your brain around.

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  7. What a wonderful and timely post. Thanks for writing it!

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  8. I just added in another wonderful story thanks to a post I saw on Facebook.

    This quote sums up what I was feeling as I wrote the post.

    "I desperately wanted to replace that broken cup. The world is a broken place, but also a place of great strength, dignity, and personal courage. That’s what I wanted to honor."

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  9. Lovely post, Cate. I need to see things like this to combat all the ugliness and hatred that takes up way too much of the online space.

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    1. Thanks, Trish. I love reading your upbeat posts!

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  10. Cate, isn't it amazing how tragedy can bring out the best in people? Thanks for your post.

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  11. Cate, thanks for such a heartwarming post filled with hope. That finally quote literally choked me up.

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