Wednesday night, Hurricane Michael swept through the Florida panhandle, making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane—the fiercest storm in recorded history to strike the region. Hurricane Michael collided with Panama Beach, FL with reported 12-13’ storm-surge swamping and subsequently demolishing homes in Mexico Beach, FL. Florida, a state known for its year-round tourism and exquisite beauty, witnessed the terrible ferocity of a natural disaster exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change and late-stage capitalism.
The so-called United States and its various colonies have been wracked by climate change and not-so-natural disasters over the past two years. Irma, Maria, Florence—Michael is just the latest in an extensive lineage of traumas that working class people have suffered at the mercy of global warming. The IPCC recently released a heavily discussed report on the future of the planet and it looks increasingly dire.
Yet, in the wake of such a storm, the Tallahassee community came together to support, defend, and empower each other.
Starting at 9am Thursday morning, folks affiliated with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, Tallahassee DSA, the Dream Defenders, the Poor People’s Campaign, and Tallahassee PSL met in historic Frenchtown just a stone’s throw away from the capitol of Florida. Our crew moved out through the area, sweeping down major road-ways, then side-streets, clearing out trash and debris. As we went, we passed out water, sandwiches, snacks, and had conversations with folks from all walks of life.
We saw inspiring acts of mutual aid from our neighbors, some of whom jumped at the chance to lend their solidarity to the clean-up efforts.
“Why are you folks out here?” one group of brothers asked us.
“We’re just trying to be good neighbors,” one comrade replied.
For the next hour, the brothers helped us clean up 3 different streets. Disasters have a way of bringing people together, bridging the arbitrary divides that the state or capital attempt to thrust between us. As these barriers collapse, humanity flourishes. In the face of an apathetic apparatus that segregates our communities, we can find hope in our shared nature. As the state continues to self-immolate from its crises and contradictions, we can seize the moment and take the initiative to protect and defend our communities. The ethos of solidarity, not charity offers us a path beyond climate catastrophe and towards the never-ending struggle of building a better world in the shell of the old.
For those in Tallahassee, FL Florida People’s Advocacy Center in Tally is a safe space for people to come for disaster relief. The Florida People’s Advocacy Center is trans* inclusive and welcomes undocumented folks.