I’ve lived in Florida my whole life. We get hurricanes every now and again; in fact, we’re famous for them! Hurricanes are not a new concept to me or any other Floridian. However, when Hurricane Matthew made landfall this past weekend, I noticed a couple different perspectives throughout different cultures.
Hurricane Matthew as a Floridian
Hurricanes are the only real threat Floridians face when it comes to weather. We’re famous for being ridiculously nonchalant about them – when school and work tell us not to leave our homes because it may be too dangerous to go outside, it’s time for a hurricane party!! Forget the bottled water and candles, we’ll be fine! But don’t forget to stock up on alcohol! I mean hey, we might lose power, so what else are we supposed to do? You can never have too much, since you probably have friends who did actually evacuate if they live in a city more likely to be hit. Other hurricane pastimes include surfing, boogie boarding in flooded streets, and simply watching in awe as the hurricane tears debris off trees and other vegetation and whips it around in the air.
Hurricane Matthew as a Haitian
Disclaimer: I’m not Haitian, nor have I spoken with any Haitians about Hurricane Matthew. This is simply what I gather from media outlets. That being said, the Haitian response to Hurricane Matthew was quite a different story. As the governor of Florida urged us to evacuate before Hurricane Matthew hit, only to be met with quite a bit of apathy (and, of course, some evacuation), Haitians have nowhere to go. They live in a third world country, so they cannot afford to evacuate from Hurricane Matthew. Next to our hurricane parties? The architecture in Haiti is not built to handle the likes of Hurricane Matthew, so as much as 90% of their homes are said to have been destroyed. At the end of the day, Haiti is left with 900 deaths that they couldn’t do anything to prevent.
If you live in a first world country, many things that are just a normal part of your day-to-day life are luxuries that many third-world citizens may never experience. If you’re a world traveler, you’ve learned to see the world from the eyes of somebody else – it’s something that many learn when they live abroad. Things like a hurricane-proof home and a kitchen full of food to hold me over are things that our neighbors down south don’t have. Florida got a day off work and a party; Haiti got their homes destroyed and their loved ones dead.
What to do post-Hurricane Matthew
I want to end this week’s blog post with a suggestion: help the needy. There are a variety of organizations looking for donations to help Haiti in their time of need after Hurricane Matthew. I’d recommend organizations like UNICEF, Hope for Haiti, and Action Against Hunger. These are all vetted charities who bring donations to those who need them.
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