It’s been easy to feel like Michigan has had more than its share of tough weather conditions this year between the early thaw, late freezes, and summer drought. But at this time of year, I always think of our colleagues in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal states as they face the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes. I remember all too vividly the extent of devastation that remained in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. It was spellbinding to listen to Cooperative Extension professionals tell of their experiences in helping people prepare for and respond to the impacts those storms had on their lives, their families, their farms and their livelihoods. Many of them rose to the challenge and spent days and days helping people without knowing for certain how their own families were doing. I remember feeling helpless at the time, and then frustrated after I heard those stories. I was frustrated that we did very little to help them. Some of our colleagues reached out to help try to find hay and other feed that could be shipped down to the gulf states to help sustain livestock herds. Others sent money and supplies through the American Red Cross and faith-based relief agencies to help.
Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to visit with Dr. Paul Coreil, vice chancellor and director of Louisiana State University Cooperative Extension, and asked him to let us know if there is anything we can do to assist as they recover from this storm. I’m at a loss as to what we can do, but I wanted to invite you to offer suggestions for how we can help our colleagues, either in their professional roles or in their personal lives as they cope with this disaster.
It is interesting to see how the Cooperative Extension programs have incorporated disaster preparedness and response into their programming. A quick survey of websites shows that Mississippi State University Cooperative Extension, LSU Cooperative Extension, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and Southern University all have websites dedicated to information and services associated with hurricane preparation and recovery.
If you hear of needs from colleagues you may know in the states affected by Hurricane Isaac, please share that information through my blog or by contacting colleagues and work groups who might be able to help so we can determine how we can lend a hand at a critical time.