As Hurricane Harvey lashed Texas and Hurricane Irma set its sights on Florida, I couldn’t help thinking about the tens of thousands of people who rely on medicines and substances of many kinds. I flew into the storm as others were leaving.
I returned to Florida after a blissful week in Maine as everyone else was heading north. Our staff, friends, and family members who were already safe or seeking safety elsewhere thought I was crazy. Last day to get out was my day to return. The Sarasota airport was empty when our Elite jet arrived. Schools were closed and people were literally freaking out with fear. Why did I return? I try not to make fear-based decisions. And I wanted to make sure the computers were safe. Call me crazy. Of course, Reach Out Recovery is in the cloud. Power outage in Sarasota would not bring the website down. I just wanted to be there so the computers, our very best friends, wouldn’t feel alone. They needed to be moved from the windows.
A few days earlier, watching Harvey from the safe distance of Maine, I had wondered about the patients, and addicts, and their families in Texas. What happened to them? When the terror and the threat reached my own home town, I more than wondered. Who was there to help and what were they doing? Unfortunately, I had no reporters to send out to the jails, shelters or emergency services teams. What I did see in the long lines of people getting gas to flee the scene, were those also stocking up on cases of beer to take with them, or to guzzle when the lights went out. There have been hurricane parties since the beginning of time in Florida and elsewhere. The grocery stores and pharmacies closed two days before the storm hit. Then the gas pumps.
On the last day of grocery store operation, I couldn’t find peanut butter, or water anywhere. We took the 5 gallon bottles from the office. I also made pots of coffee to drink at room temperature in case the power went out. It did. The wind raged and the rain sheeted down. During the long Sunday night when I worried about the windows blowing out, I knew I would have my coffee in the morning no matter what happened. I get a headache without my coffee.
But what about those who need much more than caffeine to feel okay? What about the people who couldn’t get whatever substances or medicines or procedures they need, or had nowhere to go in the storm. A roof over their heads. Were the shelters open to the homeless and addicts? How would everyone get along? There was plenty of reporting on the devastation, on abandoned pets, on rescues. But I haven’t seen any reports of people in withdrawal in shelters, or people overdosing. What did the dealers do with their stockpiles? Did they flee too? Will they come back?
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Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Leslie Glass
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