On August 13 Hurricane Charley cut a path through south Florida. Twentyseven counties were hit—25 ultimately given federal disaster assistance. Sentinel staff editor Patricia Kadick wanted to share stories of people who in Charley's wake were themselves real gifts to neighbors and new friends alike. So she interviewed a number of these people by phone and e-mail. She found an unmistakable silver thread emerging throughout these stories—a thread of practical care, fortified with kindness and love, in which individuals gave of themselves what they had to give, even if only a hug or a bottle of water. Shining with equal brightness was a deep honoring of God, Love, as "a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1). Here are just a few of the stories Patti uncovered.

Rallying together—like a chorus that fills a hall when a few lone voices cannot—trucks, cars, and people poured into Florida. Armed with water, hope, willing hands, food, free phone and Internet service, shower and laundry units, generators—and with love! More than one person I spoke with said, "It's like a war zone down here." Electric power was out, trees were uprooted, hundreds of homes had been flattened or left without windows of roofs. The debris in streets threatened blow-outs, while lack of street signs added confusion. Wires, instead of traffic lights, hung at some intersections, where smiling volunteers, sweat-drenched in 90-plus-degree heat, patiently directed cars and trucks, bikers and pedestrians. And each day it rained some more.

September 27, 2004

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