(Oct. 4, 2004) — Awesome acts of God can beget awesome, wonderful acts of man. Consider the damage done to the Caribbean and southeastern United States by hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.
Hurricanes aren't all that unusual in that part of the world. Businesses and residents are used to the occasional evacuations, wet weather and losses of power that come with the seasonal storms. (We doubt that economic development folks in Florida say much about hurricanes to Yankees searching for new plant locations.)
But the truly big storms, like Charley, a Category 4 hurricane when it hit Florida on Aug. 13, are different. And this season's rapid-fire succession of storms is, we hope, a once-in-a-lifetime event.
News coverage of the storms has focused on preparations, expectations, damages and deaths. But it's notable how individuals and firms work together to help out shell-shocked residents.
Immediately after every storm, we know some items will be in great demand: plastic tarps, which are used for just about everything; and bottled water. Often times those are donated, and plastics companies large and small are frequently among the donors.
Take, for instance, PGT Industries Inc., a vinyl and aluminum window maker headquartered in Nokomis, Fla. After Hurricane Charley hit, the company put together a disaster-relief center at its plant and stocked it with food and water. The company bought 150 generators, allowing for showers, and cold drinks and other essentials like flashlights, batteries and diapers were available. Because communication was difficult, the company even chartered an airplane to fly over the Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, Fla., area with a banner that said “PGT employee relief available at plant or call.”
Industry workers elsewhere pitched in around the state, helping with donations, hard work and whatever else was needed.
With all the news headlines that magnify examples of inhumanity around the world, we feel it is worthwhile to call attention to the many silent examples of humanity that occur when folks unselfishly pitch in to help others. To the extent that plastics companies played a role, thanks. Your efforts may not generate monetary rewards, but the value is immense nonetheless.