BUILDING A STRONGER AMERICA IN THE WAKE OF HISTORIC HURRICANES & FLOODING
The morning after Harvey made landfall, I’m sure many of you received our Survival Scout about September being “National Preparedness Month.” If you missed it, you can get the full story by clicking here. At the time that article was written, Harvey was barely a tropical depression. It turns out that Harvey would become a poster child for the thoughts we shared in that story. And then Irma would come along with more devastation – and more lessons for us all. And then Maria knocking out power to Puerto Rico to 3.4 million for up to six months.
Our fellow citizens in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico, those hardest hit by Harvey & Irma & Maria, now know first-hand the nature of a major crisis.
There’s only one word that comes to mind: overwhelming.
Well, there’s another one too: unpredictable.
Harvey was completely unpredictable. Many hurricanes follow predictable paths – Harvey did not. Many hurricanes fizzle out once they reach land – Harvey did not. Many hurricanes, like Irma, provide advance notice of danger (we knew it was bad 10 days in advance) - Harvey did not as we received warnings with only 2-3 days notice.
Irma also proved unpredictable – in a more fortunate way. More on Irma in a moment. And Maria left utter devastation.
Because of Harvey’s unpredictable nature, it was hard to know who would be the most affected and in most need of help.
When Harvey made landfall in Rockport, the thought was that Houston would be largely spared. It was, after all, almost 200 miles south of the city, with only the outer bands hitting them. Then, Harvey parked itself for a day, took its fateful northeasterly turn back toward the gulf and plagued Houston with drenching rains for days.
This resulted in local, state and federal emergency personnel being completely overwhelmed.
Not only this, but store shelves were clear in a matter of hours, and no way to restock them with the roads being closed. Millions in the region lost power. Gas stations were pumped dry. In some areas, these conditions existed for days/weeks.
Luckily, many from outlying regions helped out, from everyday citizens to groups like the “Cajun Navy.” Without all of us pitching in, the situation could be a lot worse.
We felt a responsibility to do the same. That’s why we sent $540,000 worth of 2-Week Emergency Food Supplies and Alexapure Pro filtration systems to Spring, Texas (that was our staging area for distribution across southeast TX) to help in the recovery effort. These efforts were coordinated through the Mercury One Humanitarian Aid relief organization and efforts being staged through Dallas. We were glad to help Team Rubicon and the Houston Area Food Bank on the ground. This was all powered by donations from MPS patriots across the nation, like you. From those recipients in Texas, we have heard from over and over again, "THANK YOU!"
MPS has donated around one million dollars in food and emergency supplies over the last couple of years. We don't talk about that much. But we're asked from time to time if we make donations. We do on a case by case basis. But, in the end, we are a business that has the goal to keep our hard-working team employed and stay in business. The requests we receive and needs are great. We support all we can.
Now back to this national emergency story...
On the ground in Spring, Operation BBQ has been cooking and distributing 25,000 lunches and dinners each day to hurricane/flooding victims and first responders. Patriot Pantry survival foods are part of the effort. Team Rubicon provided relief support.
Without your generosity and support, it wouldn’t have been possible. We pledged to donate a 2-Week Emergency Food Supply to the effort for every order we received. Many of you asked that your entire order be sent to Texas. We were astounded by your generosity. Your help has made a huge impact.
We sent a similar, smaller donation shipment to Florida relief efforts in Fort Myers as well.
We will see our fellow Americans through this.
Yet, the unfortunate truth remains: you can’t evacuate a region of tens of millions, much less a city of two million in less than 48 hours. It’s impossible. Or an entire state like Florida.
Further, we can’t expect emergency services, which are tiny in proportion to our population, to have a plan to provide for all.
This is why we take issue with FEMA’s inadequate recommendation of families planning for 3 days. Many were stranded for far longer than that. Millions across Florida are without power for days, maybe weeks. No refrigeration. Grocers without an ability to cool or freeze fresh food. Shelves remaining empty. Many are still living in shelters, unable to return home. Simply put, every American needs far more than "3 days."
A 3-month emergency food supply may seem like overkill to some, but I’m sure many of the stories from Harvey, Irma and Maria bear out the notion that you can never be over-prepared.
Even if a crisis only lasts a week, what if your neighbors’ houses flood and you have to choose between turning them away or trying to feed them on a 3-day supply? Being extra prepared makes these kinds of decisions less difficult to make.
Residents of the Gulf, the Keys, southwestern Florida and the entire island of Puerto Rico are finding that public water was largely compromised or contaminated. It may be for some time - months for Puerto Rico.
This is why we recommend that every American have a plan to filter and treat their water. Flooding can happen anywhere – not just flood-prone or low-lying regions. And flooding is only one of many threats to our aging water infrastructure.
A day or two after Harvey hit Houston, we received this message from a customer down there:
Greetings from waterlogged Houston.
Preparedness became reality this weekend. Last year I stocked up on ‘Emergency’ food since we live a hurricane zone, but did not anticipate the aftermath such as this. Flood water is feet deep. We have had flooding before, but never like this. The news stories can't tell the full extent of this.
Everything is closed - stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc. Prior to the storm store shelves were bare. This is a long-term recovery, not just the week's news cycle.
People are displaced and forced into shelters - some have lost everything. I live adjacent to a flood control reservoir that is holding and does not have any flooding in this immediate area. We are told to stay home unless flooded out... so far I am fortunate not to have any flooding.
Reality bites big time and hard. We never know when an emergency will hit us in the gut.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Wayne. We will keep doing everything we can to help your neighbors now – and to help them prepare in the future.
Then, as soon as we all thought we could catch our breath from Harvey, Mother Nature gave us Irma.
Many predicted Irma would be much worse than Harvey. It set records as it tore across the Caribbean. At one point, it looked as if it could directly strike Miami.
Many Floridians took the too-recent lessons of Harvey to heart, preparing early and not hesitating to evacuate.
We still saw chaos and rampant price-gouging on the highways and in stores. Luckily, Irma lost much of its steam shortly after making landfall, with its counter-clockwise pattern producing a “negative surge,” sending storm surges out to sea initially. This made the actual storm surge in many places much smaller when the storm reversed its wind pattern.
There will still be devastation and much-needed relief efforts for those affected in Florida. In talking to MPS family members and co-workers in Florida (several of our preparedness advisers who are part of our call center team have been without power for days and are unable to take your calls), the relief comes from knowing we were spared from the worst-case scenario – even though we prepared for it.
We also received this short message from a Mercury One volunteer in Florida:
Just wanted to take a moment to say how much I appreciate you & all your hearts for hurting people.
Nearly all who help in the sea of response have "drops in the bucket" that truly are huge to them & to those we serve.
We received a donation today of $28 from a little old lady who had to review her budget for the next three months to make sure she gave all she could. How awesome is that! Tearing up thinking about her own plight.
May God richly be blessed and bless you too!
Simple. There are no further words needed.
Then there was this:
As a Florida resident that had to evacuate for Hurricane Irma - thank you! I used the food that I purchased and was amazed at the ease of preparation and wonderful taste. Great job in helping us survive. ~B. Fedele
These stories have repeated themselves again and again.
Irma taught us the flip-side of the lesson that you can never over-prepare. It is much better to over-prepare then be overwhelmed.
It is my sincere hope that three major lessons are learned from this hurricane season:
- That FEMA and the federal government increase their recommendations for family emergency planning. I doubt they would raise it to our suggestion of 3 months, but anything is better and more realistic than 3 days. Harvey, Irma, and Maria have demonstrated that it is always better to over-prepare.
- That all Americans seriously consider their own investment in preparedness and self-reliance. Not only does this preserve individual liberty and security, it enables us to help others when they need it most. That’s the America I grew up in. The road to get back there is not easy, but not insurmountable.
- These hurricanes provide at least some sort of advance warning. A major earthquake like the two recently experienced in Mexico or other sudden disasters likely may not.
If you found today’s message helpful or inspirational, we’d be honored if you shared it. The more people we can touch with this message, the better. Also, you can follow our donation and relief efforts for Harvey & Irma through MPS Facebook or Twitter. Please follow or like us.
Stay Alert. Prepare. And have a great day, friends.
Grant Miller, MPS Preparedness Adviser