1. Verklan, M. Terese PhD, CCNS, RNC, FAAN

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It is shocking to hear how many tragedies, man-made or Mother Nature, can befall an area and a country in such a small period of time. The violence October 27, 2018 alone with the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh resulted in the deaths of 11 people. The shooting is now the deadliest attack in US history on a Jewish community. A black man and woman were killed in a Kentucky grocery store, by a man who had initially tried to enter a church with a gun. Fortunately, the doors were locked because he was seen with the gun via a camera. You may remember that 26 people were murdered at a Baptist church in Texas in 2017, and the deaths of 9 people at a Black church in Charleston in 2015. Just yesterday, Mother Nature sent a terrific line of storms through the Gulf Coast region heading toward the East Coast. There were strong, dangerous thunderstorms, torrential rains, flooding, and tornadoes that essentially canceled Halloween for children and their families. There was Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 that flooded Houston and surrounding areas. It was the first disaster in a long time, after Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, so there was plenty of news coverage for an extended period of time. Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc on the Carolinas this past September. The storm was 350 miles wide and left 50 dead. When I saw the extensive flooding, my heart jumped just as it did when I had my first glimpse of the amount of water that I was evacuated from outside of Houston. And then there was Hurricane Michael in October. The category 4 storm smashed into the Panhandle of Florida and demolished entire cities. The pictures of devastation were horrific. I believe 45 people lost their lives. As Michael moved inland, there was extensive flooding in Georgia, and the Carolinas, already saturated, were flooded again.


So why am I telling you of the tragedies? Because the news from each disaster gets shorter and shorter in the aftermath. It's on to the next story. And people are forgotten. I had a sharp wakeup call October 19, 2018 from a friend who lives outside Tallahassee. Her house was flooded and damaged, and she was out in the community trying to help others. Her call for help came 9 days after landfall, and the focus of the news was on other topics. She asked whether I knew of people who could donate chain saws and light equipment to clear driveways and yards. There were lots of volunteers who had little to work with given the massive destruction. Try to imagine all of the people and families who are affected by any disaster, whose grief and suffering extend long past a news sound bite. We forget them, because we hear about the next unimaginable story.


But for those living with the calamity, there are many emotions that can't be caught in a few minutes of media. Hurricane Harvey happened in August 2017 and I finally had a working kitchen and livable home on September 10, 2018. And I had resources! I think of the people who lost everything and have little means to build back their lives. Thank goodness for the good people who have been helping others. I am confident those who have been helped will be eternally grateful. I know that I am. The kindness is welcomed, but can't replace loved ones and lost cherished items such as pictures, bibles, and wedding albums.


As nurses, it is our responsibility to be advocates for our patients and their families. I would like you to use your voice to honor the people who have been lost and affected by catastrophe. And importantly, to be a part of your community so that you can assist whether the incident is a hate crime or an act of God. Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. In his acceptance speech he said, "Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future."


-M. Terese Verklan, PhD, CCNS, RNC, FAAN


Professor and Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist


University of Texas Medical Branch


School of Nursing Galveston


Graduate School of Biological Sciences


Galveston, Texas