It has been said that every cloud has a silver lining.

If a cloud can produce a silver lining, just think what a hurricane like Irma can do. New friendships are formed, care for others is demonstrated, a chance to calm the nerves of those who are frightened is taken, food is provided, help is given, laughter becomes common language among those who come to seek shelter, and finally, sometimes even romance blossoms!

As the winds blew and the rain poured outside the Lakewood Park Elementary Shelter, the flood water began rising. Inside, a flood of a different kind was sweeping the campus — a flood of caring as residents and staff sought ways to help one another. Mrs. White, retired and ready to volunteer in any way, entertained the children during the day and walked the floor with a tiny baby in the early morning so the mother could sleep. Hallway neighbors began to look out for those who were not always able to care for themselves, seeking out the help of staff when their newfound friends were in need. So many stories, so much laughter, and compliments about the amazing efforts of the staff sent reassurances to them that what they do in times of crisis does indeed make a difference in the lives of others.

The Lakewood Park team also learned of a special couple whose relationship began when they met at the shelter during Hurricane Matthew just one year earlier.  The two walked and talked their way through one blustery night and when the shelter doors opened at Lakewood Park Elementary one year later to once again host shelter residents from Hurricane Irma, the two returned.  This time, they returned celebrating their one year anniversary as a married couple.

In 2016, both were fairly new to St. Lucie County.  Doris was from Kentucky and Rick was from Pennsylvania. Now, they both call St. Lucie their home, and for them, Hurricane Irma offered a bit of a nostalgic spirit to celebrate.