The hurricanes lashing the southern part of the nation have provided an exclamation point to Gov. Sonny Perdue's declaration of September as Preparedness Month in Georgia.
Those storms have also brought out the best in our community, echoing calls to service that seemed to ring louder three years ago.
Led by Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker and coordinated with the Augusta Chapter of the American Red Cross, five emergency shelters immediately became available for refugees.
Those are big-effort projects, and are only used if needed. In the meantime, there's a definite need for supplies for hard-hit Floridians.
Responding is Wesley United Methodist Church and Club Car, along with other area businesses. A donated Club Car truck parked at Wesley has filled with donations for Floridians. Citizens have donated everything from water to duct tape, and the truck was scheduled to leave today to meet some of our southern neighbor's needs. Because of Hurricane Frances, the deadline has been extended an extra week to allow time for more collections.
Also stepping up to the plate, as a story in today's News-Times notes, are teachers and students at South Columbia Elementary School. Adults and kids alike are helping rescue a hurricane-flooded elementary school in Florida by collecting school supplies. That collection continues through Friday.
Appropriately, the next day is the third anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. A spirit of compassion awakened after those horrendous acts of terrorism saw long lines of blood donors and a new appreciation for the daily sacrifices of emergency workers.
Locally, the first anniversary of 9-11 was met with a filled-to-capacity community service at Wesley. The next year the numbers were smaller, with a quickly planned but nonetheless moving service in front of the county's Justice Center.
This year? There are no big plans to commemorate 9-11. As memories of the attacks fade, the third anniversary of 9-11 locally will mostly be a private affair Saturday morning, observed by firefighters who saw so many of their New York brethren die three years ago.
There's little individuals can do on their own to create a community-wide event. But each one of us can continue to let our emergency workers know they are appreciated. Make it a point to say thanks to Columbia County's firefighters, paid and volunteer; the deputies in the sheriff's office and the officers from Harlem, Grovetown and the school system; Gold Cross EMTs; and the county's emergency staff.
Above all, don't forget our armed services, who are fighting terrorism abroad so our emergency workers aren't responding to it again at home.
With something as little as a plate of brownies delivered to a fire station or a few pencils dropped off at South Columbia, we can all remember the spirit of 9-11 -- even as our response to community need switches from fighting terror to all this frightening weather.
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