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Local Heroes Make America Great (Always)

by Countable | 10.12.17

What’s the story?

The hurricanes and wildfires hitting American communities in recent months can leave us all feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. Local people and companies are coming together all over, however, to give us hope again.

Here are some stories of helpers, as Mr. Rogers used to call them, to revive you in the midst of the storm:

Volunteers are helping Puerto Rico from home, with a map anyone can edit

Volunteers across the country are updating maps of Puerto Rico remotely in order to help aid workers on the ground get to citizens in remote areas:

"While island officials continued to call for aid this week amid shortages of food, water and other basic necessities, organizations delivering relief are asking for help with a lesser-known resource: map data. In particular, they need more details on the island’s roads and buildings, in part to give them information about who needs help and how to get there.”

"Thousands of people are trying to help, while sitting at their computers hundreds of miles away, logging a clear digital path for aid. About 60 of them gathered at Columbia on Friday, with other universities... holding simultaneous "mapathons” for Puerto Rico on their own campuses.”

"But whether or not someone has ties to the island, mapping can help people understand what’s going on in a more visceral way, It also is a meaningful response at a time that can otherwise feel overwhelming.”

Help pours in for evacuees who escaped fire with horses, other livestock

Wildfires in California are decimating rural areas where ranchers and farmers keep considerable livestock. Residents and organizations are stepping up to offer safe shelter to affected animals:

"Some are saying they lost everything but managed to flee the flames and bring their animals to safety.”

"Many are bringing horses and other livestock to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa which is sheltering hundreds of evacuated animals, both large and small.”

"And donations are coming in from people all over the Bay Area who want to help.”

Comcast Opens XFINITY WiFi Hotspots To Aid Residents And Emergency Personnel In Northern California

Internet provider Comcast has opened up all their Xfinity Wifi hotspots to the public, free of charge, through Friday, so that residents can keep in touch with family and emergency personnel.

"Due to the impact of wildfires in the North Bay, Comcast is opening its XFINITY WiFi hotspots to help residents and emergency personnel stay connected throughout the Napa and Sonoma County areas. XFINITY WiFi hotspots will remain open to anyone who needs them - including non-XFINITY customers - through Friday, October 13.”

Midwife rides inflatable swan through flood to deliver baby

Midwife Cathy Rude had a client go into labor in the midst of Hurricane Harvey flooding. Her street was too flooded to drive to the birthing center, so she hitched a ride on an inflatable swan:

"As Haley’s labor progressed, she drove with her mother and her husband, Daniel, to attempt to pick Rude up in their truck. When they arrived in Rude’s neighborhood, however, they learned that it would be impossible to get down the street due to the floodwaters. After being unable to get in touch with friends who owned a kayak, Haley spotted a woman on a large, white swan drifting down the flooded street.”

"Andrea yelled out the window of the truck and said, ‘Hey, would you be willing to give my midwife a ride so she can deliver my baby?’" said Rude.”

"A midwife is not just a care provider, she’s your friend," said Rude. “So of course, she wanted me to be there. I think she was appreciative, but I don’t think she was very surprised, because as midwives, that’s just what we do.”

CBS News reporter David Begnaud has done some of the most impressive on the ground reporting following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Here’s an interview posted on Twitter that he conducted with a group of veterans currently working in western Puerto Rico. They are getting aid to citizens trapped in the mountains, risking their lives to get supplies past mudslides and to mark drop sites for relief helicopters to safely drop aid in remote areas.

CBS’s David Begnaud Opens Up About His 34 Days Covering 3 Hurricanes

Begnaud is not a "local hero", but he's drawn attention to many of them. And he's been pretty heroic himself while moving straight from covering Hurricane Harvey, to Hurricane Irma, to Hurricane Maria:

"TVNewser: Journalists are on the ground to observe and report. But you’re also human, and these are extraordinary circumstances. How did you separate the two?”

"Begnaud: As a journalist, I think you can ask questions that can get help and answers for people without putting a bottle of water or a piece of food in someone’s hand. One example is when we went to the airport in San Juan, there were 1,000 people laying on the ground. I asked them where the food and water was, and they said there was none. So I then spoke to the governor, who said: "I saw your report last night, and I ordered food and supplies to the airport.” I responded by saying, “Well I was just there, and there isn’t enough.” He then told me he would make a phone call, and within an hour it got there. The point is that you don’t have to get involved in the story to help. You can simply ask the questions. I don’t think that’s involving yourself too much, I think that’s being a good human being.”

What are you seeing and hearing?

What sorts of stories are you seeing or hearing (or experiencing!) where people are stepping up to help other people in the midst of these disasters? What stories are giving you hope in people and in America?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Misha2017 via Twitter)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(29)
  • Dave
    10/12/2017
    ···

    What makes America great is that most of the American people, not the people in office, stand for freedom, truth, honestly, fairness, equality and justice for all, not just for the few. They are willing to walk a mile in others shoes and feel their pain. They will give of themselves to help and save others, and the world. They are the real heroes!

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  • Thomas
    10/12/2017
    ···

    Right, people make America great. The only problem right now is that the people aren’t really agreeing with each other, but stories like these really give me hope that everyone can come together to be one population again. We need more of that.

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  • Roy
    10/11/2017
    ···

    It’s always heartwarming to hear so many stories of people helping others. Keep in mind that Hurricane María and the wildfires in California deserve the same dedication as the previous disasters we've had to face, and that although it is hard to cope with so many tragedies so often, we should still remember to be willing to help people who deserve it. Let's hope this is the last tragedy, natural or otherwise, that strikes America for a long time.

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  • Stephanie
    10/12/2017
    ···

    The Marshall Plan saved people after WWII by parachuting food, water etc. Let’s parachute in food, water, medicene and solar power kits for energy in Puerto Ricp.

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  • Deirdre
    10/11/2017
    ···

    This is the true America

    Like (11)
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  • Susan
    10/12/2017
    ···

    If it weren’t for the kind hearts of many Americans, this country would not be as great as it is. The current administration certainly doesn’t reflect that same kindness.

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  • Leslie
    10/12/2017
    ···

    Yes, it is the people who make America great, open, honest, hard working, people who reach beyond religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, educational and socioeconomic status to help each other. No one person, including any president came make America great again, only her people.

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  • GatewayJohn
    10/12/2017
    ···

    Disaster and tragedy always bring out our better nature so why does it so often “hidden” is normal situations Heroes are never lacking but why not be heroic in treatment of others every day.

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  • Ben
    10/11/2017
    ···

    It’s great to see Americans helping Americans. In times like this we see the real America that hides at times.

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  • Lawrence
    10/12/2017
    ···

    The love of God in his mercy has always made America what it is today. This includes the World, also. Love God, love your neighbor.

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  • Skyler
    10/12/2017
    ···

    As American citizens it’s our nature to help one another

    Like (4)
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  • Jacob
    10/12/2017
    ···

    As Hillary Clinton stated in her historic acceptance of the Democratic Party nomination, "American is great because America is good."

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  • Chris
    10/12/2017
    ···

    As Americans, it is in our nature to help each other. We need to expect the same of our legislators and presidential administration.

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  • VSB
    10/12/2017
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    The people that help others in these tragic times are heros. We all need to step up and help people in our every day lives as much as we are able through acts of generosity and kindness. It doesn't have to be a huge act. Not treating others like they are less than you because they are different somehow is a place to start.

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  • Sheryl
    10/12/2017
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    Thank you to all of you who have reached out to help our fellow Americans as they face loss and tragedy.

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  • Adrian
    10/12/2017
    ···

    It's good that people are coming together to help one another. We are all human and we all can make a difference in the world if we unite.

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  • Roger
    10/11/2017
    ···

    It’s a shame it take something devastating to happen to bring everyone together, it’s even more of a shame that we forget so soon after a disaster that some forget how we all worked together as a community.

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  • TracyEckels
    10/11/2017
    ···

    Where is FEMA when we need it the most? Oh yeah, I forgot didn’t Trump put one of his lackey’s in charge of it?

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  • JayFeat
    10/12/2017
    ···

    It's good to know that even when times are most divisive we can come together to help each other in the face of crisis.

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  • Crystal
    10/12/2017
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    seeing Americans help one another is our nature .

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