As I sit here in the studio surrounded by so many beautiful images of the weddings I have captured, my heart is heavy thinking of all the devastation throughout Texas. So many people have been affected, and so many have lost their lives, others everything they own. The tears really flow as I read more stories not just of the devastation, but of people helping each other and highlighting the best of humanity.
Now the questions I ask myself are: How can I help? What can I do? I feel so helpless.
As a Floridian, I know the devastation that natural disasters can wreak on communities. When my daughter was only a few months old, we had to evacuate with her to Georgia in order to escape Hurricane Opal. We packed our precious girl and all of the photo albums we could manage, and then we were off.
I remember feeling a sense of relief once we were in the car. As much as I loved our home, I understood that the material things could all be replaced. But I will never forget the terror I felt while driving as I-10 was shut down and a four hour drive became a 13 hour one. I was having visions of being stuck on the highway when the storm came, but thankfully our daughter was so little that she was fine as long as she was changed and fed.
My hubby, an avid sailor and windsurfer, was tracking the storm. He was convinced that the storm was going to turn and that we shouldn’t go to the evacuation site we were being led to. He was right—the storm turned and flooded the location we were supposed to be at, but thankfully we had gone to another instead. We were greeted with cots in a gymnasium and bags of basic supplies from the American Red Cross. I was so grateful for our safety in that moment, and for the trunk full of photograph albums in our car that held a lifetime of memories. Upon returning to our home, which had watermarks as high as seven feet, we cleaned up and repaired everything with the help of Flood Insurance and FEMA.
So with the current storm affecting Texas, I first donated to the American Red Cross because I know how important those immediate resources are for those in need. I’m still working on what else I can do, but one thing I will definitely do is offer free family portrait sessions to anyone affected. I have family in Dallas, so once the emergency is under control, I will take some of my photographer friends, rent a studio in Texas and shoot as much as we can for these families. It’s a small gesture, but I know how cherished family photographs can be, and how devastating the thought of losing them all in a moment’s notice is.
I encourage everyone to find a way to help, no matter how small. As Maya Angelou said, “be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”