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posted: 9/9/2017 2:00 PM

Prayers for Florida: Editorial reflections on Hurricane Irma

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  • A woman carries her grandmother away from a flooded home after Hurricane Irma passed through Haiti on its way to Florida.

    A woman carries her grandmother away from a flooded home after Hurricane Irma passed through Haiti on its way to Florida.


One of our editors, having twice visited Anguilla, has long felt some affection for the small Caribbean island and its friendly people.

So last week, on the morning when Hurricane Irma was about to hit, he got up and Googled to see what news there was. And he stumbled across a blog from Anguilla where someone was posting real-time updates on the weather situation.

Then the storm updates stopped.

Since then, our editor has worried about that remote Anguillan blogger and what has become of him.

He has worried about him the way you would worry about a dear friend, even though they had no relationship beyond those few pre-dawn posts strewed across the internet.

There is something about transcendent calamity that transfixes us as people.

There is something about it that holds the power to touch and inspire us, to break our hearts, to well up our eyes with tears, to open our arms.

Perhaps it's the stinging reminder of how fragile our lives are, how vulnerable we all are. "There but for the grace of God go I."

Perhaps also it's the hopeful reminder that we're fundamentally all the same flesh and blood -- the reminder that despite our arguments and rivalries, despite our insecurities and false pride, despite all the subtle differences that presumably set us apart, we're ultimately all part of one human family.

Today, we -- and by that, we refer to most of the suburbs if not most of humanity -- hold our collective breaths.

For those of us in the suburbs, Irma is palpably different from Harvey. Partly because of the horrific size of Irma. But mainly because of its target. Florida has a manifest connection to Chicago's suburbs. When we asked readers in a poll on if they know someone in Florida and are worried about them, almost half the respondents said yes.

Not that those of us in the suburbs failed to care about Houston. The outpouring of generous and heartfelt support for the victims of Hurricane Harvey makes our concern clear.

But Florida is different. Florida is where Midwesterners relocate, vacation, retire. There are a lot of suburban connections there.

And so today, we watch and we worry and we pray. We await word and wish for favorable outcomes. We stand ready to provide whatever help that we can.

These are our better angels. This is the love inherent in the human heart.

In this period of tragedy, let us spread that love freely and widely. Let us bestow it on Harvey's victims in Texas, on the earthquake's victims in Mexico, and, yes, on Irma's victims in Florida, but on its victims in Anguilla and elsewhere too.

Today and always, let us hold fast and truly love one another.

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