Some of the reports that rolled in after HurricaneIan hit talked about the tens of billions of dollars worth of damage that had been caused by the storm. Sometimes I feel when we're given a bunch of statistics, or these huge numbers cross our screens, it's hard to remember that those numbers symbolize real people with actual homes.
Our family was incredibly fortunate to have weathered the storm well but we were soon inundated with pictures of those who hadn't, so we decided to join the many awesome volunteers gathering to help. For four weekends in October, we traveled to South West Florida to help.
We cut and hauled trees, ripped out and trucked out molding furniture, appliances, drywall, and tarped roofs waiting for later crews to repair or replace them. While the work was hard what stuck out to us were the people. Many were older, or ill that couldn't do this on their own, others just had so much that one family could not do the incredible amount of work necessary to get things stable again, and everyone was dealing with the mental toll this storm brought. It was an honor to help these folks, and there were lots of hugs between the volunteers and owners, and lots of tears, the joyful kind. It was an incredible reminder of humanity's ability to love.
I was proud of all my boys as we mentioned our plans to do this another weekend, and then another weekend, and they kept saying "Yes, we want to do this". I think my youngest said it best, after a particularly grueling day he pumped his fist and said, "This is why I love volunteering!", we had just left a house of a woman who had told us we had answered her prayers all of us crying and hugging when we left. The love was palpable, and that's what makes me proud to be human.