Restore calm after storm to the victims of Matthew

On any number of scales, Hurricane Matthew weighed in as a hulking monster as it pounced through the Caribbean region and southeastern United States with hellacious fury last week.

In meteorological record books, Matthew distinguished itself as the first Category 5 Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

In sheer devastation, early estimates of its destruction hover in excess of $5 billion, making it the costliest hurricane since Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast in 2012

In human terms, Matthew’s howling winds and torrential downpours claimed the lives of about 1,300 people. That includes at least 43 deaths in the United States and more than 1,200 in Haiti, as of Friday.

Beyond the numbers, however, lies a large swath of intangible pain and immeasurable suffering stretching from the impoverished villages of Haiti to the beaches of Florida and North Carolina.

Even though the scoundrel Matthew has weakened and disappeared from the radar, for many the long process of rebuilding homes, lives and communities has only just begun.

For them, particularly those in still flood-ravaged North Carolina and wind-torn Haiti, danger continues to loom large, and full recovery seems light years away.

Amid the ruins of disaster, however, many rightfully give thanks. A quirk of Mother Nature fortuitously steered the forceful heart of Matthew away from land in the U.S., minimizing a death toll that could have risen to levels surpassing Katrina in 2005.

Many also are thankful for the abundant and relatively accurate warnings and mandatory evacuations that served to lessen Matthew’s toll.

And amid the devastation, the indomitable and indefatigable human spirit has triumphed. Many resilient residents refuse to let Matthew win the day. Many of their neighbors – near and far from the epicenters of devastation – have been offering a helping hand or a generous donation to help make victims’ lives whole again.


It is this sense of expanded community that has motivated helping agencies and individuals throughout the nation. From the Mahoning Valley, for example, a team of disaster relief professionals from SERVPRO have traveled to North Carolina to provide fire and water cleanup services as well as mold removal.

On a larger scale, relief teams from American Red Cross chapters across the country have traveled to the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida to assist victims. They’ve also sent teams to the hardest hit and most remote areas of Haiti, where disaster has been way of life for far too long. Matthew piled on more devastation on top of the destructive earthquake in 2010 that killed 230,000 people, a post-quake cholera epidemic that claimed more than 7,000 lives and a prolonged drought in recent years that destroyed many Haitians’ only source of income, their farmland.

As they and others continue to recover, we applaud and support relief efforts by reputable organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvantion Army. Unlike some fly-by-night organizations, donors can rest assured that their donations of money or supplies will reach their intended destinations.

As such, we urge Valley residents who are able to lend a hand to the thousands desperately seeking restoration of normalcy and calm after the storm.