Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wake-Up Call




Every once in a while, incidents or accidents in your life jangle your brain and flood your heart. It could be news of a friend or colleague just diagnosed with a serious disease, the death of a loved one, a motorcycle or car accident that ruins lives, or a hurricane in Texas that decimates communities with an amount of rainfall never before experienced in the United States. Heartbroken for those families, we observe their misery and strength and donate money or time to help or just sit back and say, “Glad it wasn’t me.”

But wait. Now it is us. The worst, biggest hurricane in history is bearing down on South Florida as I write. Now we’re in Houston’s raincoats and boots. It’s predicted that parts of Miami will be uninhabitable for months or years and that if it doesn’t turn more to the east, we’ll have damage, high wind and storm surge on the west side of Florida. We’re in the same boat, but at least we have more warning than Houston/Beaumont did. We can prepare and evacuate.



But wait. What are the important papers and items I need to take or move to safer places and where are they? It’s been so long since the last hurricane, I’ve gotten complacent. Family photos, pets and what else? Should I take photos of my belongings? Is my insurance paid up? I should have taken action after Hurricane Harvey; that was my wake-up call and I just thought it wouldn’t happen here, at least so soon after another hurricane blasted our country.

But wait. And now, there are two more hurricanes brewing. Meteorologists all over the world are predicting more and bigger storms with more damage as the sea level rises. Miami has been working on raising their infrastructure for the last few years, but it might not be enough. We’re finding that building on wetlands is just not smart; that’s where the water will go in a flood, whether it’s Texas, Florida or Timbuktu. If it is the case that weather conditions will worsen and be more intense here and around the world…

Why wait? Shouldn’t there be a concerted effort and commitment to planning ahead for these projected catastrophes? We’re experiencing multiple wake-up calls. Let’s not get complacent.

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

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