About a week ago, the Florida State Society gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and allowed me to represent my beloved state of Florida in the Cherry Blossom Princess Program. Now, they’re letting me use my platform to raise awareness about relief for the Panhandle in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. We’re hosting an event about this next Saturday, and it would mean the world to me if you came. Some of you know that my family lost our Papa in the aftermath of the storm. If you can’t make the event, you can donate here (if you donate to the Hurricane Michael relief fund and name “Bay County,” 100% of your donation goes to those relief efforts).
My Nana and Papa Covey taught me to love Florida and to love Panama City; my early childhood memories are sitting with them by the Bayou, picking kumquats from the trees in their backyard (to make into delicious pies!!), going to mass with them at St. Dominic’s — I could go on and on. Panama City and Bay County are the same in my memory and my heart, but they’re different after the storm. Most of the trees in Nana and Papa’s backyard aren’t there anymore; the Covey home was deeply damaged. It broke Papa’s heart. Driving around Panama City was like driving at the end of the world, and when we came for the funeral at Thanksgiving time, we weren’t able to say our goodbyes to Papa at St. Dominic’s; they were still rebuilding after the storm.
The United Way of Northwest Florida is one of the best places to donate to encourage recovery. I mentioned this earlier in the post, but if you donate to the Hurricane Michael relief fund and name “Bay County,” 100% of your donation goes to those relief efforts. You can donate here.
I’m dedicating my career to disaster interventions for Florida. I’m honing in on science policy now, and during my PhD work, I’ll continue to study how to make Florida more resilient in the face of these extreme weather events. Florida’s special: the people, the beautiful environment, the history — it’s worth saving. It’s worth rebuilding. It’s something I’ll work to make even stronger.
In this post, I shared a few images of my family. There’s Papa and I in one of our first pictures together, my Nana and Papa supporting me at a Girl Scouts event, Papa on the Bayou with his gator hat (go gators!), and my family supporting me as Florida’s Cherry Blossom Princess. There’s also a palm tree that remained in Papa’s backyard after the storm, which Aunt Kate made into beautiful Thanksgiving tshirts (pictured in our big group photo). I love my Nana and Papa forever. I love the beautiful family they created when they married later in life. And I love Northwest Florida and how we can help rebuild it together. If you can make it next Saturday, it would mean so much; we’re also constructing aid bags at the event for people who are displaced. If you can’t make it on Saturday, and you have the means, I ask that you please donate; every little bit helps. Thank you for reading my family’s story. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:25