• 59°

Good and bad – mostly good – comes after tragedy

As I looked at photographs from various sources this weekend of the flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey my heart went out to those who lost their homes, and in some cases, their loved ones.

Why? I’d like to think it’s because I’m a decent human being who has a heart.

And yet, many of those devastating photographs were accompanied by people who used the storm and havoc it caused to push their political views.

Some asked where Trump was and why he hadn’t been there yet. Others asked why some aren’t blaming God’s wrath as they did when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Some applauded the administration’s response, “unlike the other guy.”

If some alien race was watching Earthlings solely by reading social media, we wouldn’t look like a planet worth visiting.

However, as I’ve witnessed the devastation a storm like Harvey can cause, I’ve also witnessed the love and outpouring by so many in its aftermath. I’ve read — and written — stories of incredible bravery and heroism. We, as a people, are not social media.

On Aug. 13, 2004, I was living in southwest Florida when Hurricane Charley hit the coast of Florida — 5 miles from where I lived.

My home was just far enough outside of the storm’s eye that we suffered no damage. I spent those hours watching the storm in the dark with my kids. We lost power just a few minutes after landfall. However, since I lived close to the electrical department, our grid was the first back up after about 10 hours.

I worked for a newspaper there as I do here in Oxford. I left the next morning early, sure there would a story or two do after the storm. As I drove to work, my jaw dropped and tears fell. Everything was either in shreds or laying on the ground in ruin. Home after home, business after business. I had no idea that just minutes from my house such devastation occurred.

I was rerouted to another newspaper as our office was damaged and without power. For two or so weeks we all worked from a sister paper’s office and we all wrote stories — from classified reps to executive editors. We put out paper for free for the next month since we were the only source of information for so many people who remained without power for more than two weeks.

Businesses who could operate with generators opened their doors to feed thousands. Firemen and police officers from around the country came to help the local departments keep order and assist in search and rescues.

People flocked from everywhere to help those who lost their homes. Donations of water, clothing and other necessities piled up while volunteers scurried to get them to those who needed them most.

There was no social media. There was no Facebook “safety check-in” pages so people could tell relatives out-of-state they were OK.

No one cared who was president or who was a liberal or conservative, they only cared about helping others or finding help themselves.

It was horrible, and yet, somehow, it was wonderful.

The negativity one may see online pales in compassion to the generosity and love shown in this country, particularly after a tragedy. However, it would be a welcomed change to see that spill over into the cyber world.

After all, you never know who may be watching.

Alyssa Schnugg is Senior Writer at the Oxford Eagle. Email her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com.