As we watch Irma, think of ways we can help

Trucks carrying FEMA supplies line up to enter Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., a staging area for hurricane relief.
Trucks carrying FEMA supplies line up to enter Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., a staging area for hurricane relief. AP

In all likelihood, this will be the most destructive hurricane season of our time.

And it’s not over. But, yes, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has been, so far, very fortunate to have been spared.

And we have been extremely generous with an outpouring of support for those who are hurting so badly on the Texas Gulf Coast.

And now, we must do it again — for the millions who find themselves in Irma’s path. We don’t know yet exactly who that will be, but we do know that Irma is a storm capable of widespread destruction. There will be a staggering need for food, clothing and shelter in the coming weeks. We must be ready to meet that need.

And there are wildfires raging across the West at a cost of hundreds of millions.

The recovery will take years and billions of dollars. Once again, we implore our leaders to take decisive, bipartisan action to keep that recovery on track.

We are up to the task. As we have seen in Mississippi, a disaster brings out the best in America and pushes trivial bickering to the side.

“The serious nature of the natural disasters and fiscal commitments before us demand the Senate and House act without delay,” Sen. Thad Cochran said before a vote on an $15.25 billion aid package to deal with Harvey. “We need to act to support the victims, volunteers and first responders on the ground.”

We must not lose sight, nor allow our representatives and leaders to lose site, of that commitment.

And we must not let them skirt the hard questions these disasters have raised.

Scientists have warned for years that increases in the average global temperature would lead to stronger, more frequent storms. Irma was unprecedented for the amount of time it was a Category 5 storm. And it certainly could be one of the most destructive.

Perhaps this will push politicians into making politically tough decisions about climate change. Miami even before Irma was seeing the effects of the rising sea level. Still, there are those who argue that they aren’t sure climate change is happening and even if it is, there is nothing we can do to stop it. We hope their minds are changed.

We must require our leaders to come up with a viable plan for the National Flood Insurance Program. The one they have is clearly unsustainable.

But first, we must take care of those with immediate needs. We have to dig deeper into our household budgets and give as generously as we can. We have to lend our skills when able. And we have to be there to remind them, the people of cities large and small on their darkest of days, that we made it through and they will, too.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.