By Debra Albo-Steiger, District Homeless Liaison for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Image above: Red Cross shelter September 2017 right after Hurricane Irma, where Debra’s program went on site to offer services.
August and September 2017 brought three powerful storms that affected three different regions of the United States. Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on September 9, 2018, and Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. Needless to say, these three storms affecting three areas in such short period of time impacted not only the lives of people and the infrastructure of the
Immediately after Harvey, I reached out to the Homeless Liaison from Houston, who described the devastation and those she knew who lost everything from the storm. I offered whatever assistance that I could provide from Miami, not realizing that just a mere two weeks later, our community would also be hit by a storm. Overall, Miami-Dade County was “lucky” with Hurricane Irma, especially compared to neighboring Monroe County and the middle Florida Keys, which saw
The trauma faced by the children, youth, and adults who experience hurricanes or any natural disaster can be felt for years. A year after these storms, we still see the hardship faced by so many with roofs that have not been repaired and homes that were not able to be saved. The support needed for our students who are in homeless situations, especially after facing such a crisis, can be overwhelming. As the Homeless Education Program, Project UP-START, we try to do our best to support our students without stable housing.
During the 2017-2018 school year, the series of natural disasters that affected our country which destroyed the homes of youth and families due to hurricanes, floods, and fires
Our thoughts are with those affected by Hurricanes Michael and Florence, as well as the many other natural disasters that have impacted so many parts of the country. Please know that our community and so many others are available to assist in whatever way we can whenever you are ready for us. A year later and still in the process of rebuilding, we remember those who reached out to us after Hurricane Irma and are grateful to continue to help students in our community and other communities throughout the country experiencing homelessness due to natural disasters.
Editor’s Note: School can be a place of stability, normalcy