The wind was measured at its peak at 155 miles per hour with sustained winds at 150. It pushed the water westward and then the tide surged as the moon and wind worked together. Our small home on Sanibel, a barrier island off the coast of Ft Myers, Florida held and then yielded to the briny froth.
The water in our house is long gone and now the interior walls have been replaced. Our neighbors have similar stories. One neighbor reported watching as the water surged to the half-way level of a stop sign. Some stayed, most didn’t and Hurricane Ian left behind a respect that had faded from stories of past hurricanes. Ian: will not soon be forgotten.
Destructive hurricanes or tornadoes or earthquakes or natural catastrophes in general are dreaded, but many find their way to harm’s way—risk be damned. We like coasts and mountains and lakes and the like. And when harm finds us often our humanity is reminded—neighborliness surges. Once again our plan, engineer, build, protect pattern is humbled and togetherness is refreshed.
Today like yesterday was one of those days. As my wife and I were helping to organize for the last push, neighbors came by to see what they could do to help. Earlier they had helped us transport, chain saw, launder and house several paintings.
We live in a world in which humans spend untold amounts of their resources to stay in control. We engineer and build to protective specifications. And then we are reminded of folly. Not bad for the throned to be dethroned from time-to-time. Catastrophes humble and humility is often the source of unity and getting things done.
We should all think of ourselves as part of a family and neighborhood and think of our country as the end result.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.