From the Editor | Taylor Kirby
THE EYE OF THE STORM
I lived in Tampa, Fl. for five years and uncountable hurricanes. Though we only suffered the calmer winds of Hurricane Katrina’s procession through the Gulf Coast, other storm systems hit us hard. Very hard. And still, my family never evacuated when we saw tropical storms charge enough power to evolve into category four hurricanes.
I say that like it was a choice, but of course it wasn’t. Who would choose to live within five miles of an ocean when a storm was expected to drop upwards of 20 inches of rain? We stayed because illegal price gouging drove gas prices up by over a dollar per gallon. We stayed because the gas stations were quickly tapped dry regardless. We stayed because our pets wouldn’t be welcome at shelters, and because we couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. In short, we stayed because evacuating was something only my richer neighbors had the resources to do.
We who could not afford to seek safety used solidarity as currency. At a whooping 13 feet above sea level, my house sat atop the highest ground in the neighborhood, and my mother hosted hurricane parties to keep our more vulnerable neighbors safe. Some of them lived too close to tall trees or the local lake; others just didn’t want to weather the storm alone. I was too young to understand the severity of what was happening, but I bet having five kids my own age around kept me from getting too afraid when all of our windows were shuttered with plywood.
To read that some people believe the victims of Hurricane Harvey deserved to lose their homes or even their lives because they didn’t evacuate broke my heart a hundred times this week. When the mayor of Houston decided not to implement an evacuation order, I imagine he might have considered how some Texans were parked on the highway for more than 48 hours when trying to evacuate ahead of Katrina—the very same highways that Harvey flooded with 10 feet of water. The people who were able to evacuate this time around likely did so even without an order; the rest may have been spared especially harrowing deaths.
One of our staff members, Ashley Bauler, set up a drive for Harvey victims, and any non perishable goods you are able to spare can be dropped off in our office. In this issue, we talk about what happened in Charlottesville; soon we will also report on the dissolution of DACA. Whether we discuss natural disasters or human-inflicted atrocities, I ask that—like Ashley—you try to respond as compassionately as possible. Empathy seems to be in short supply these days, but I believe we can do better.