I have friends in Florida. You probably do too. Maybe relatives.
Who among us isn’t worried or worried for folks this morning?
Ken and Mary Lou Previti are among those friends I am worried about.
Both are progressive activists who moved from the Chicago area after they retired. I’m always a little jealous of them in the winter.
Ken is one of my pension warrior comrades. If you have attended any progressive education conferences over the past few years then you may have run into Ken.
Or heard him.
Ken speaks his mind.
Do-nothing teacher union leaders are often the targets of his ire.
Today the target of his anger is Florida Governor Rick Scott and climate change deniers and who can blame him.
I mean, check out where that X is located.
Ken’s Facebook post yesterday:
It inspired this cartoon by me:
Older and retired folks in Irma’s path have a lot to worry about this morning.
One out of every five people in southern Florida is over 65, the highest percentage of any state in the country.
When Hurricane Andrew swept across the state in 1992, the health care system was overwhelmed by the evacuation of facilities and the relocation of elderly patients.
The legal requirements to take care of special needs individuals at home and in medical facilities have since been made more stringent, but there are also many people who live outside of official oversight.
Yolanda Schon, the administrator for a private care provider called Senior Oversight, said that most of their clients were planning on hunkering down — including three on Miami Beach.
Most older people are poor.
Most older people in South Florida are poor.
“We’re in the inner city here. People don’t want to help folk like us,” he said. “Nobody is leaving Liberty City because there’s nowhere for them to go.”
One mother of all hurricanes, two very different experiences. In Liberty City, the African American neighborhood that inspired the Oscar-winning movie Moonlight, the chances of escaping Irma’s devastating wrath are all but non-existent. When almost half the residents are below the federal poverty level, generators and storm windows are not an option, let alone a few boards of plywood and a tank of gas.
Most people are taking advantage of the lack of a mandatory evacuation order in their area and staying put. But local organisers fear they are woefully unprepared.
“People in Liberty City are not ready for what’s coming,” said Valencia Gunder, a community activist helping to set up an emergency response center for those in distress that will open on Monday morning, in the wake of Irma. “They don’t have enough money to pay the rent, and then this happens.”
Gunder said an additional problem facing low-income black, Hispanic and Haitian neighborhoods like Liberty City and Little Havana, the Cuban quarter, was that Miami authorities were so slow to reach them.
“Historically, the city and county and other large institutions do not respond to our communities, so we expect to be without help after Irma for at least three days.”