We Floridians are resilient, with the strength and spirit to rebuild after Hurricane Ian | Opinion

On Sept. 28, Florida witnessed Mother Nature’s fury as Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm, bringing catastrophic winds and flooding to millions. As our neighbors in Southwest Florida begin to pick up the pieces and assess the unimaginable destruction Ian left in its wake, these fellow Floridians need our support.

Florida is no stranger to what storms of this kind are capable of unleashing. Those of us who lived in Miami in August 1992, know well the catastrophic effects of hurricanes and how they can change the physical and emotional landscape forever. We also learned about our grit and resilience, and how our neighbors across the state quickly came to our aid. Miami Dade College lost its nascent Homestead Campus during Hurricane Andrew, but we promised South Dade that we would not abandon it. Today, our Homestead Campus and that resilient community are better and stronger than ever.

Now it is our turn to reciprocate. In challenging times like these, I think of the remarkable ways our community bands together to exemplify the human spirit of kindness that stands out in the face of tragedy. When I served as chancellor of the Florida College System, North Florida experienced the worst of Mother Nature during Hurricane Michael — immediately unifying our state to help neighbors near and far. We also must never forget the dreadful hurricane season of 2017, when both Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma left behind significant damage. After those storms, our community stepped up in a variety of ways to help those in the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico and even abroad.

Let us catalyze that resilience once again and help Southwest and Central Florida by supporting the FloridaDisasterFund.org. I commend our state and federal leaders who are working tirelessly to provide the resources and relief our neighbors desperately need. At MDC, a team from our facilities department is in close contact with our sister Florida College System institutions that were severely affected by Ian. We are ready to help them get back on their feet as quickly as possible. We also delivered supplies on Thursday to Florida SouthWestern State College, and more help is on the way.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to band together as a united state and nation to help friends in need — just as we have done in the past. It is up to everyone to come together to uplift neighbors who look to us for support in rebuilding their lives and communities.

Madeline Pumariega is president of Miami Dade College.