Got Electricity? Neighbors of all ages Lighten Blow of Hurricane Irma

Tidbits from the Sandwich Generation #17, Neighborly Tidbits from Hurricane Irma…

What could be the reason behind a ‘slumber party’ with guests ranging from ages 77 to 19? Hurricane Irma, of course. When Hurricane Irma came storming through, she created ‘strange bedfellows’ all over town, with the mixed generations offering shelter, comfort, and whatever was needed from one another.

In our family’s case, my 22- year-old daughter’s one bedroom apartment became the most valuable real estate in town. As my eldest only lost power for a brief time, she opened her air-conditioned and well-lit home to those without, spreading some much needed sunshine.

The apartment did not remain a single for long, as our daughter was quickly joined by her former college roommate, and then her brother, who had evacuated from his dorm. 'Grandma' from nearby Seminole County (not to mention a cat and a dog) 'crashed' the party after a towering oak smashed aside her garden fence, dangling precariously over her roof. Sleeping arrangements were tight with the Grandma on an air mattress, and the millennial generation slumping over the couch. No one complained of their discomfort, as all temporary occupants realized that the situation could have been much worse.

Like my daughter, Andrea Massey-Farrell and husband, James Farrell, offered their Winter Park residence as temporary shelter for friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Andrea noted that that the ferocious winds and cracking of limbs throughout the night of September 10th, promised downed trees and power outages for coming days.

As one of the few residences with running electricity, the Massey-Farrell home became a refuge for those around them. Andrea commented that her family’s domicile was transformed into part laundry-mat, part mobile office, and part plug-in center for those ‘left in the dark’. As President/CEO of Harvey and Carol Massey Foundation, being a team-player comes naturally to the Orlando area philanthropist. She shared a saying handed down from her parents, “You can’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. Sooner or later you have to throw something back”. With school out for the week, the Massey-Farrell’s 12-year-old boys, joined in the clean-up efforts, lending a hand, making hurricane relief a family affair.

Emily Newman of the Jewish Pavilion’s Orlando Senior Help Desk offered comfort and reassurance to out -of -town family members, worried about the health and safety of their parents and grandparents. Newman commented, “After 24-hour hurricane coverage, you can imagine the heightened concern of family members around the country.” To help assuage worries about elderly family members, Emily reached out to local senior living communities to inquire about the safety of their residents, touching base with individuals upon the family’s request.

Fireman, contractor, and handyman, Mike Warren (Mobile Mike) of Longwood, worked around the clock to ‘rescue’ neighbors of all ages from Hurricane Irma’s blows. In just a period of just a few days, he repaired 75 generators, bringing temporary electricity to many in a neighborhood where thousands were left ‘powerless’ for more than a week. Warren shares a story of a 70- something neighbor who asked for help with flooded dry wall. A beleaguered Warren, couldn’t say no to helping an older neighbor with a quick fix. When, it turned into a major job, Warren saw it through because “neighbors help neighbors, that’s what we do.”

P.S. The wisdom and perspective of our elders is invaluable. I was never more impressed by the strength and character of my mother-in-law when a tree tossed aside her (formerly) stunning, hand-tended, and well-loved garden, leaving her essentially with no front yard. She shared, “Thank goodness no one was hurt. People always come first. Plants re-bloom. And given time, we all will, too.”

Tidbits from the Sandwich Generation is a series of blogs by Pamela Ruben, Jewish Pavilion Marketing Director, about managing the multi-generations. Check out additional posts at For no cost help for issues pertaining to older adults contact the Orlando Senior Help Desk, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, at 407-678-9363 or visit

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