President's Letter: FNGLA member response to Hurricane Michael has been heart-warming

November 1, 2018

I have joked I didn’t forecast well my service for the FNGLA.  I failed to take into consideration “my year” was an election year and what an historic election cycle this has turned out to be!  So, please do your part and make your, our, voice heard.  The older I get, the more I think, “this the most important and consequential election to date.” 

Well, this one really is and no matter your leanings, the likely implications to our industry are significant.

I also prayed for no natural disasters. Enter algae blooms and Hurricane Michael.

I was fortunate last year to have the opportunity to buttress now Past President Ed Bravo in his response to Hurricane Irma. An opportunity we all wish we didn’t have.  But I, we, learned a great deal about our industry’s emergency management and, more movingly, our members’ resiliency and unmatched generosity. 

Ed’s Frontrunners Chapter has in place an “Emergency Response” binder for the last decade plus.  In it is contact information for the chapter’s member neighbors.  Should there be a natural disaster and, when safe, it is encouraged to check on your nearest member neighbors.  If a structure went down, help them rebuild and/or make it secure.  If nursery stock was knocked over, help to upright them.  If someone has a unique need, support them as best you can.  The Emergency Response binder also includes a list of members’ possible equipment and supplies (such as tractors, generators, etc.)  which can be shared.  

Post-Irma, this Emergency Response binder was tailored by FNGLA for each chapter and made available to all FNGLA members. It can be found on your FNGLA chapter’s web page.  Please read, study, update, enhance and adapt your manual to your unique chapter.  We just saw with Michael, it was very beneficial!

As you all know, Michael quickly materialized and sadly left parts of the Big Bend and Panhandle terribly battered.  Although a few of our members were quite damaged, and if there is ever a silver lining to a natural disaster, most have reported they fared reasonably well given Michael’s quick power.

I am also so terribly proud to report the response by you, our members, was immediate and heart-warming.  Before the full scope of Michael was even known, my phone and email were inundated with messages of giving.  I personally was in contact with at least half of our Chapters and I’m hearing of acts of benevolence to which I was not directly synchronizing.  I wish to thank for their special helpfulness to me, FNGLA, and our dear friends impacted: Martin Hackney (continued prayers to the Big Bend Chapter), Ed Bravo (and all Frontrunner chapter members), Rich Kling (and his Action Chapter), Broward, Miami-Dade, and Royal Palm Chapters, as well as FNGLA Past President and Florida State Representative Halsey Beshears. Godspeed, Halsey, to the residents and constituents in your district and your neighboring district!  

Apropos of this was my message at FNGLA’s Convention back in June:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for the labor.  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10. 

Similarly, our Association’s mission is simple and succinct – to protect and promote.  We will work tirelessly to “protect.”   We will be convening a working group of individuals involved in the response to our members impacted by Hurricane Michael.  It is the goal to share lessons learned, not just for those impacted, but how do those not directly harmed most effectively respond in kind and be most impactful to our friends in need?  I appreciate so very much your generosity of giving in this time of need. Be on the lookout for this report. 

Proudly yours – Will

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