Floridians need our assistance - April Avison

Over the weekend, as we Georgians noticed all the Florida license plates rolling through town, those who came from Florida braced for a scary experience.

Some of the people who lived in the area where Hurricane Frances swept through didn't have much of a choice of what they would do. They packed up their belongings – what they could fit in their cars – and drove away, many with the realization that they might never be able to return to their homes again.

Think about Charles and Laura Willis of Fort Pierce, Fla. The Associated Press reported that they sat on a blanket in a high school hallway on Friday because they had nowhere else to go – and no way to get there even if they did.

"Believe me, if I had any money I wouldn't be sitting here," said Laura Willis, 42, whose $5.15-an-hour income from sporadic work cleaning up construction sites is all there is to supplement her husband's disability check. "I'd be sitting in a motel somewhere."

Can you even imagine what that must be like? These people left behind the homes they'd worked hard to pay for, the jobs they'd grown accustomed to, and packed up their kids and some clothes and are now living in hotels or camping out at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

We need to help these people. Many have opened their hearts and homes, and we need to continue in this spirit of giving. The general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway generously opened the campgrounds there for those who have fled the hurricane.

These people need money, food and shelter. Think about that when you go to sleep tonight in your bed in your air conditioned home after a healthy meal.

Natural disasters can happen at any time and can affect millions of people. The only way to get through something like this is to have the luxury of depending on the kindness of others to help in the hard times.

This is a good time for those who have children to teach young people the value in helping others. The people who fled the hurricane didn't do anything to deserve this fate, and it is our civic duty to help them.

Sit down with your family this evening and think of a way you can help someone else. If you foster the practice of helping others, they will be there to help you when you need it.

April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at aavison@henryherald.com .