Science Friday: Hurricane Florence support is proof that the good in humanity prevails

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FILE – This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 satellite image made available by NOAA shows the eye of Hurricane Irma, left, just north of the island of Hispaniola, with Hurricane Jose, right, in the Atlantic Ocean. Six major hurricanes _ with winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph) _ spun around the Atlantic in 2017, including Harvey, Irma and Maria which hit parts of the United States and the Caribbean. (NOAA via AP)

Over the summer I traveled by train cross country to Colorado. One of many of the many interesting people I met, an Australian traveler named Simon, who had tattoos crawling up both arms, gave me his most valuable life advice:

Most people are good.

To say I was skeptical, is an understatement. Most people are good? Where had this guy come from? Had he even turned on the news recently?

But after reading reports of the Hurricane Florence aftermath, I’m perhaps able to reconsider my former stance on this theory.

It is people like Tray Tillman and Raleigh Genovesi who have restored my faith in humanity.

Tillman, a construction foreman in Washington NC, used a fishing boat to rescue hundreds of people from inland flooding as a result from the storm. It was his generosity that saved lives.

Elaine Sloane of New York City also made a big impact, even from a distance. She and her friend Trudy Schilder were able to raise over 5,000 dollars to transport a woman and her seven rescue dogs from just outside of Myrtle Beach.

The cast of One Tree Hill (a TV show filmed in Wilmington North Carolina) used the show’s 15th anniversary to raise money for Hurricane Florence. Many of the stars reached out on social media to encourage fans to honor the show by donating to the Red Cross and to purchase one of the t-shirts they designed for the charity.

All the way in Michigan, three 5th graders at Morrish Elementary School, used the principles behind their Positivity Project, to make a difference after the storm. Genovesi expressed her desire to take action. “Me and my friend Skylar, we were just talking about all these hurricanes that kept hitting and hitting. And we were so worried about it, so, I just had this great idea that maybe we can help them.” The girls started a pajama day fundraiser, collecting a dollar per participating student at the school.

Also, in the Carolinas, over 1,000 workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) volunteered and the National Coast Guard had ships prepared to help. In Tennessee and Maryland, firefighters and helicopter rescue teams were devoted to helping with the effects of the tropical storm.

These are only a few of the incredible acts that have been made to support those impacted by the storm. It is almost dubious to suggest such a devastating natural disaster, resulting in at least 42 deaths, could have a positive outcome, but an intriguing aspect to tragedy, is how the true good in society can be revealed. I think perhaps most inspiring, is how one doesn’t have to be a certain type of person to make a difference. In our society, we do not rely on politicians or officers to improve the lives of others. Rather we take it into own hands to respond with compassion.

This past summer, I got the opportunity to attend the American Psychology Association conference in San Francisco, CA. One of the talks I heard, was by a psychologist who studied the instinct of empathy in human kind. We are a fascinating species because we have evolved to act sympathetically towards each other.

Evident in the ability for a fifth grader to respond to a community in urgent need, and in the way another student held the door for me on Tuesday afternoon, letting me out of the rain, it is crucial to remember and recognize these acts of morality among us.

Simon said it best:
Most people are good.


Kate Luongo is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kate.luongo@uconn.com.

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