As post-Ian recovery efforts proceed, watch how underserved communities fare | Opinion

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, when the news carried pictures of destruction and death, I kept looking for some sign of what was going on in the Black and/or poorer sections of Naples and Fort Myers. I wondered if there was anyone saved from those areas.

Then a few days later, I saw several people from the predominately Black neighborhood being interviewed on television. They told their stories of how they had survived the killer hurricane. And they were hurting. But just as I thought, at that time, several days after Hurricane Ian had left a trail of chaos in its aftermath, no one had come to their aid.

It seems that whenever there is a natural disaster in our country, it is the neighborhoods of people of color, where mostly the poor among us live, and who have been hit the hardest, are the last to be helped.

My mind goes back to 2005 and Hurricane Katrina, which is blamed for the deaths of more than 1,800 people in the basin section of New Orleans, where many poor people of color lived. I am still haunted by the pictures of people sitting on their roof tops waving at and overhead helicopter, begging for help.

I remember how, that in the aftermath of the hurricane, some people were literally dying on the streets for lack of help. They crowded the stadium where innocent citizens were forced to live among thugs who raped women and robbed others of what little they had left. To this day, I have yet to learn if several of my friends who lived in New Orleans at the time of the hurricane, are still alive.

And who could forget Puerto Rico and the paper-towel incident with then President Trump. People were dire need of help. The island had been devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and, a year later at the time of Trump’s visit, had never fully recovered. The only thing the then president could think to do was to throw out a few rolls of paper towels to those who gathered at a church in San Juan. It seemed all a joke. But the truth be told, the people desperately needed food, clean water and lights. I remember shaking my head and thinking: “Where is his compassion?”

When such disasters strike, people of faith usually rally and raise funds and supplies to be sent to those in need. My church, a small congregation in Liberty City, with less than 300 members, has always reached out, sending money to the Red Cross, and collecting water, clean clothing, and linens, can goods and other needed items.

My pastor, Bishop Walter H. Richardson, has often given the church’s charge card to the church’s relief committee to shop for whatever was not donated. Still, I often wonder if, with all our giving, how much of it even reaches the needy among people of color and the poor.

Recently, I saw a ray of hope when President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron Desantis laid their politics aside and vowed to help ALL the people left hurting in the wake of Hurricane Ian. It is the way it should be. People from all walks of life have lost loved ones and all their worldly possessions. It shouldn’t matter if they are Black or White, Republicans or Democrats. What matters is that our government reach out to all Americans and do what needs to be done in a time of need. It’s the right thing to do.

Public relations awards bestowed, scholarships given

Warm congratulations to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava; Connie Crowther, president of Crowther & Co., and Nathaniel Derrenbacher, of the Royal Caribbean Group. The three outstanding Miami-Dade Countians will be honored Friday (Oct. 14), when the Miami Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Miami) celebrates its 35th Anniversary. The celebration luncheon for the 2022 Ev Clay/PRSA Miami Chapter Endowment Fund Luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m. at the Rusty Pelican Restaurant and is being presented by Baptist Health South Florida.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava will be presented with the 2022 Royal Palm Award. The award “… honors a member of the community who embodies and demonstrates key values of the public relations profession and has made a significant contribution to Miami-Dade County.” Connie Crowther will be awarded the 2022 Bill Adams Lifetime Achievement Award. Nathaniel Derrenbacher, a former recipient of the Ev Clay/PRSA Miami Endowment scholarship, will receive the Communicator to Watch Award.

During the PRSA’s 35th annual luncheon, eight college/university students each will be awarded an Ev Clay/PRSA Miami Endowment Fund scholarship. The prestigious scholarship fund was established in 1985 in memory of Miami public relations pioneer Everett A. Clay.

The 2022 scholarship recipients are: Tonaj Jones and Monica Schmitz, Florida International University; Sergeline Michel and Anthony Scott Jr., Florida Memorial University; Julian D. De Cardenas and Olivia Valkenburg, Miami Dade College, and Arianna Marie Gonzalez and Lexi Zisselman, University of Miami.

The celebration luncheon for the 2022 Ev Clay/PRSA Miami Chapter Endowment Fund Luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m. at the Rusty Pelican Restaurant and is being presented by Baptist Health South Florida. For information about the luncheon, visit prsamiami.org.

Bea Hines can be reached at bea.hines@gmail.com.