25 For One: Supporting Hurricane Relief

12 Dec 2017

By Rebecca Cantrell

Remember watching the recent hurricanes on the news as they swept across Texas, Florida, the British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico? Or maybe you didn’t just watch them on TV, maybe you hunkered down in your home or in a shelter and watched them firsthand.

The storms had passed, but the damage remained. That’s when RE McDermott rounded up twenty-five authors to help. What are we doing? We’ve put together a bundle of 25 novels for the price of one. That’s right: you donate $10 to a worthy cause and get 25 full-length novels from USA Today, New York Times and Amazon bestsellers to enjoy on your e-reader.

Not only did the authors donate their books, but the cover designer and formatter also worked for free. What that boils down to is that every penny made on these books will be donated straight to One America Appeal. One America Appeal is a charity put together by all five living former presidents (non-political, non-partisan, just people helping people) and its goal is to help those who were hurt by the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the American Virgin Islands.

I asked these authors for their accounts of storms they’ve lived through in the past and got some terrific storm stories.

From Richard Bard:

I’ve never personally experienced a big storm, knock on wood. Short of a heavy snow now and then when I lived in Indiana during my college years, I guess the weather’s been friendly to me, particularly since moving to southern California. Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t ‘weathered’ more than my share of earthquakes, including a couple violent shakers that toppled shelves, cracked windows, and half emptied the neighbor’s pool. I can still remember huddling under the dining room table with my wife and visiting friends during a big one, feeling helpless and fearing the worst. But the shaking subsided, my family was spared, and after a few repairs and cleanup life returned to normal. We dodged a bullet. But what about those who suffered the loss of their homes and treasured belongings in the face of the recent devastating hurricanes? One day they’re enjoying a BBQ with the family, and the next day they’re clinging to one another in a shelter with hundreds of other lost souls. Their lives will never be ‘normal’ again, and if we can join together and help them in even the smallest of ways, then they are truly deserving.

From Russell Blake:

It’s impossible to forget riding out a big hurricane. I’ve suffered through quite a few, in Hawaii and in Mexico, but like a first night of love, Odile’s brutal landfall in Cabo three years ago will forever live in my memory.

Nothing prepares you for the fury of a storm of that intensity. The sheer destructive power as buildings collapse like tissue, roof tiles become bullet-speed projectiles, winds the force of a jet on takeoff tear at your world hour after relentless hour.

When it finally ends, the silence is indescribable – like walking out of a wind tunnel into complete calm.

The weeks after, without power or water or medicine or the rule of law, can be worse than the storm. There’s no way to overstate the ferocity or devastation, and no way to exaggerate the damage left in its wake.

From RE McDermott:

I’m no stranger to storms. I grew up near Galveston, where the 1900 storm left over 6,000 dead and remains the deadliest natural disaster in US history. My Mom’s first memory was being carried through rising water to the hayloft, seeking refuge from yet another great hurricane in 1915. We had a summer business on the beach, but our home was 15 miles inland. Each year we’d track storms, hoping to avoid hauling all our stuff back home from the beach to Winnie, a lofty 26 feet above sea level and a ‘safe haven.’ It was a place folks fled TO, not from. No storm surge ever reached Winnie.

Then Harvey came with unprecedented rain. When the water stopped rising, over a third of the homes were flooded to the rooftops. Winnie, Texas, is just a dot on the map, like countless other places in the paths of these storms. They’re all homes to someone, just as Winnie is home to me, though I no longer live there. They’ll recover, because that’s the way they roll, but the path will be hard. I’d like to do what I can to make it at least a little bit easier.

From Annette Shaw :

I grew up in south Texas. In fact, I was in Houston in 83’, when a hurricane decimated the area. I believe I was 13 at the time. It was probably my first experience in survival and thus why I write in the post-apocalyptic genre.

I remember the storm hitting us like a freight train. In pitch dark, you could scream at the top of your lungs, and the person right next to you could hear nothing other than the storm itself. Though that was not the biggest obstacle, what happened later threatened our lives. Three feet of water stood outside our home. No power, no running water and worst of all, dead and or dying animals tried escaping the murky water by finding higher ground or anything they could cling to.

Snakes and rats slithered and swam up the side of our home and tried to make their way inside. Someone was constantly on watch with a stick to poke them away night and day. The worst was having to dislodge bloated dead dogs away from our home, their stench so awful. This went on for three weeks without power until the flood waters finally subsided and power poles replaced.

My extended family still lives in south Texas. They are hardened Texans. They’re used to what Mother Nature brings, however, this was no ordinary storm season. Right before Harvey hit, my aunt’s father passed away. She relocated to Crosby, Texas to be with her mother, leaving my uncle in Austwell, TX…right next to the town of Rockport where Harvey made landfall. He was required to evacuate, so he went just north to Victoria, TX to stay with my cousin’s family.

By the time they meteorologist realized the size of the storm it was too late for them to evacuate. When Harvey hit, they lost all power, all cell phone service, etc. My grieving aunt was panic-stricken. She had no way to contact her family. I live in Idaho, and I’m a HAM radio operator. Even radio contact was out of the question at the time. There was simply no way to link up communication. We tried to have faith that in a day or so, cell service would resume and that’s exactly what happened. They’d lost power and dealt with the same flooding that always occurs but no one was hurt and everyone, thankfully was accounted for.

My cousin in Houston was not so lucky. She was trapped with her husband in their one level home. At one point the water was flooding to perhaps four inches, and then suddenly they were dealing with a survival situation the next. They ended up escaping to their neighbor’s second story home and still the water rose. Again, they were stranded and the water continued to rise. Our family frantically flooded Facebook with posts of a needed boat rescue. Finally, someone was able to rescue my cousin and her husband as well as their neighbors by boat from a second story window, and they relocated to her daughter’s home. Sadly, they lost everything. Both vehicles were towed away once the flood water receded completely totaled. Their home was so damaged everything had to be torn out from the carpet to the rotting sheet rock…everything. Unfortunately, we also lost several treasured family heirlooms.

We were fortunate really. No one was seriously hurt, and above all, it brought out the best in everyone. I’m lucky to know several authors in the area. My elderly aunt and uncle are very precious to me. So back in the small town of Austwell, Texas, the damage was unbelievable, and most services in the reconstruction effort went to the larger cities. I put out a call for help to clear debris in the hot, humid, and mosquito-infested area.  A fellow author, who writes under the name Joe Nobody, grabbed a buddy and together they drove south to meet up with two people they’ve never met, my aunt and uncle, spending the day cutting tree limbs and clearing the way to allow power to be restored. I’ve never met these men either, but they are truly friends. I cannot be more thankful.

This cause is near and dear to me. I will help in anyway I can. When this anthology was floated by me, I jumped the chance. I’m so very thankful to have the opportunity to give back. Hurricanes provide no discrimination. May we all act without hesitation when humanity calls.

From Christine Kling:

Andrew, Frances, Jeanne, Katrina, Wilma, Irene. I know the terror of sitting up through a seemingly endless black night listening to that wind that sounds like a giant 100-mile-an-hour blender trying to grind its way into your house, what it’s like to go for days without power, to suffer property damage, to drive through 8-lane wide traffic intersections with no traffic signals for weeks on end just to get to work, and to yearn for a return to what life was like before.

The worst storm I ever experienced was the one that was similar to what Irma did to the Florida Keys. In 2016, my husband and I were aboard our 52-foot, 30-ton steel sailboat in a boatyard in Nadi, Fiji. Our big heavy boat was propped up with stands and resting on her wide keel, but when category 5 Cyclone Winston passed over us, that boat blew over–with us inside. I flew through the air like I had been catapulted and hit the teak wardrobe on the far side of the cabin. It took us 21 days to get power restored, and six months to repair the damage to our boat and our bodies. Many people helped us. Now it’s my turn.

From Tom Abrahams:

I am a television reporter in Houston. During Harvey’s worst, I was trapped on a highway overpass for 32 hours. My photographer and I were surrounded by rising flood waters and spent the better part of a day and a half on the air. We saw firsthand people waving for help from their rooftops, stranded atop sunken cars in the middle of streets, rescue boats plucking people from the water and motoring them to safety. We watched helicopters airlift parents and children from danger and lower them onto the highway. It was unlike anything I’ve witnessed in 25 years of covering storms.

But it was once the water receded that I saw the gravity of the need; the people left homeless, entire neighborhoods abandoned and littered with curbside debris consisting of appliances, furniture, clothing, drywall, flooring. That need still exists. And that’s why I felt compelled to help.

Here’s a link to the 25 for 1 website with more information. Or you can buy the books here. Or donate directly here. The most important thing is that we help those whose lives have been devastated by the storms.

Support Hurricane Relief and Buy 25 For One!


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