Looking back on hurricanes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ralph Howard / State Representative

When facing a great crisis for his own nation, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said: “We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself, the means of inspiration and survival.” This idea, drawing strength from adversity, is needed right now to overcome the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

Looking at today’s difficult pictures on our television screens, it brings back memories of one year ago, when Hurricane Ivan tore throughAlabama. Ivan ravaged our state’s coastal communities and left a path of destruction across Alabama. While Ivan didn’t do nearly the damage that Katrina did, the same resolve that helped resurrect Alabama’s gulf coast shows what is needed in those areas affected by Katrina.

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The human toll caused by Katrina is unparalleled by any natural disaster in our nation’s history. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones in the wake of this tragedy. It must be an unimaginable horror for the thousands of Americans who are missing children, parents, and friends. We cannot recover lives lost, but with perseverance, time, and prayer, some semblance of healing can happen.

What Ivan showed us is that we can recover is infrastructure and property. Our experience inAlabama proves what a storm destroys, we can rebuild. Our state is a shining example of how citizens from across our state and around the nation can come together to mend the damages done by mother-nature.

OnSeptember 16, 2004 Hurricane Ivan pounded the state’s gulf coast causing billions of dollars in damages and leaving thousands homeless. Yet through the diligence of many, Alabama’s beaches persevered and were open for business this summer. While our beaches didn’t generate as much money as usual, it is an extraordinary accomplishment that the beaches were able to recover as much as they did. This is a testament to the dedication and work ethic of the citizens of our state, and shows the way for places like Bayou La Batre, Biloxi, and New Orleans.

Alabamians are known to be hard workers and we continue to show that the merit is warranted. Many from across the state helped to provide assistance, materials, and labor for reopening efforts along the coast. Currently, 80% of hotels, 90% of restaurants, and nearly 100% of all recreational activities inBaldwin County have reopened. But the work is far from over. Many farmers lost crops, including irreplaceable timberlands, and have yet to recover fully. Yet the state has been working diligently to make sure people get the help they need.

Katrina undid some of the progress made on repairing the beaches and building along our coast. The storm also did tremendous damage to areas inAlabama not affected by Ivan. We will make it right again.

We know that more hurricanes are coming. They can take away property, and sometimes people’s lives, but the one thing storms can’t take away is the spirit of people willing to rebuild, and to help those in need. Churchill talked about survival after suffering.Alabama has proven we can thrive in the wake of disaster.