As Florida starts to pick up the pieces from one of the largest hurricanes on record, people are looking for something, anything good that they can say came out of the mess. Some reports put the number of Floridians without power at as much as 6 million and the damage toll as high as $40 billion in property damage, with the total death toll yet to be released.
But, just like with Hurricane Harvey, we were reminded that events like this are the great equalizer. No matter your race or political affiliation, it rains and the just and the unjust alike. But people aren’t as worried about all those issues during a storm as they are about surviving. The true character of the people affected comes out, as it did with one Sheriff’s deputy in Martin COunty Florida. This brave deputy, still out on patrol even in the horrible conditions, saw old glory getting beat up and went out to save it.
The Daily Caller reported on this officers dedication to his country, and the flag:
“A Martin County, Fla., deputy braved Hurricane Irma to rescue a flag getting beaten by the incoming storm over the weekend, according to Sunday video.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office posted the video of MCSO Watch Commander LT. Danny Cunningham stepping out of his vehicle to take down the flag on their Facebook page.
‘I couldn’t watch it get blown apart,’ Cunningham said of his actions.
Hurricane Irma, now a tropical storm, made landfall on southwest Florida Sunday, first hitting the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm and then Marco Island as a Category 3 storm. Starting as a Category 5 storm in the Atlantic Ocean, the storm battered Florida, leaving a wake of destroyed power lines and about 6 million Floridians without power.”
This may not mean much to some. There are those that see the flag as a useless visual aid that is more of a fashion statement than anything else. To those who’ve seen their family and friends give up their lives for the flag and the country that it represents, it means much more than that. Our passports, our flag, our national anthem, they’re all reminders of hundred of years of the greatest social experiment on the planet where we get to enjoy more freedoms than almost anyone in history.
So it may just be a flag to you, but to this officer and many others, it’s a reminder that even though the storm is devastating, the American spirit and free market will allow the people of Florida to rebuild.
Reuters gives more information about the devastation left in Florida as Irma moves north:
FLORIDA CITY/MARCO ISLAND, Fla. (Reuters) – Shocked Florida residents returned to their shattered homes on Monday as the weakened Hurricane Irma pushed inland, flooding cities in the northeastern part of the state and leaving millions without power.
Downgraded to a tropical storm early on Monday, Irma had ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes recorded. It cut power to millions of people and ripped roofs off homes as it hit a wide swath of Florida on Sunday and Monday and moved into neighboring states.
Authorities said the storm had killed 39 people in the Caribbean and one in Florida, a man found dead in a pickup truck that had crashed into a tree in high winds on the Florida Keys over the weekend.
With sustained winds of up to 60 mph (100 kph), Irma had crossed into Georgia and was located about 47 miles (76 km)northeast of the Florida state capital Tallahassee, the National Hurricane Center said at 2 p.m. ET.
In Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, people returned to the wreckage of trailers shredded by the storm after the city escaped the worst of Irma’s winds but experienced heavy flooding.
Melida Hernandez, 67, who had ridden out the storm at a nearby church, found her home split down the middle by a tree.
“I wanted to cry, but this is what it is, this is life,” Hernandez said.
High winds snapped power lines and left about 7.3 million homes and businesses without power in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. Southeast, state officials and utilities said. They said it could take weeks to complete repairs.
Miami International Airport, one of the busiest in the country, halted passenger flights through at least Monday.
Police in Miami-Dade County said they had made 29 arrests for looting and burglary. Fort Lauderdale police said they had arrested 19 people for looting.
Some residents who had evacuated the Florida Keys archipelago, where Irma roared ashore on Sunday with winds up to 130 mph (209 kph), grew angry as they tried to return to their homes on Monday.
A few dozen people argued with police who turned them away from the first of a series of bridges leading to the island chain, which officials warned still lacked power, water and cellphone service.
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said it might be weeks before many residents of the Keys were able to return. “The Keys are going to take a while,” Bossert told a regular White House briefing. “I would expect that the Keys are not fit for re-entry for regular citizenry for weeks.”
Irma hit Florida after powering through the Caribbean as a rare Category 5 hurricane. It killed 39 people there, including 10 in Cuba, which was battered over the weekend by ferocious winds and 36-foot (11-meter) waves.
A week earlier Hurricane Harvey flooded a wide swath of Houston. Nearly three months remain in the official Atlantic hurricane season.
Northeastern Florida cities including Jacksonville were flooding on Monday, with police pulling residents from waist-deep water.
“Stay inside. Go up. Not out,” Jacksonville’s website warned residents. “There is flooding throughout the city.”
The storm did some $20 billion to $40 billion in damage to insured property as it tore through Florida, catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimated.
That estimate, lower than earlier forecasts of up to $50 billion in insured losses, helped spur a relief rally on Wall Street as fears eased that Irma would cut into U.S. economic growth.
Shares of insurance companies were among the big winners, with Florida-based Federated National, HCI Group and Universal Insurance all up more than 12 percent.