In less than a month, two massive hurricanes brought devastation and destruction to sections of the U.S. and Caribbean Islands. While these storms are no longer wreaking havoc, news stations broadcast daily reminders of the impact of first Hurricane Harvey and then Hurricane Irma. Fortunately, amid the rubble and rubbish are uplifting stories that highlight the kindness of strangers.
Scenes of ravaged nature, reports of thousands still without power, and a climbing death toll lead the six o’clock news hour, but these horror stories stand in stark contrast to the inspirational stories and hopeful tales that people are sharing in smaller online communities.
So instead of getting bummed out when you turn on the TV, let’s spread these stories of love and happiness. In tough times it’s important to maintain an optimistic outlook. In the words of Hellen Keller, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.”
Scroll through to see how regular people went above and beyond to help their friends, neighbors, and complete strangers.
Hurricane Harvey Couponing Kimberly Gager
Kimberly Gager has a self-confessed shopping addiction, but she's putting it to good use. With her "extreme couponing" skills, she's purchased enough goods to donate that she no longer has room in her garage to park.
“Sometimes I’m delivering until 1 or 2 a.m.,” Gager said. “It’s really becoming a second job. I’ve gotten very little sleep. I'm in that store so much now that they know my name," she joked. "Now even at Target they see me coming they shut down a line and open another. They bring out pallets to roll items out to my car."
Acts Of Kindness Hurricane Irma Chick Fil A
Tara Parker Routzong and her son Landon were waiting in the drive-thru line at Chick-fil-a when they spotted a Florida license plate. As the Alabama mom had been talking about Hurricane Irma with her son earlier, Landon wanted to buy the driver's lunch. But how do you pay for the meal of the person ahead of you? "You run toward their window with a debit card in hand and scare the mess out of them," Routzong wrote on Facebook.
Routzong and her son learned the man whose meal they had paid for was from Miami and was fleeing to Birmingham to stay with family.
"I told him we hoped he returned to his house untouched and that we'd keep him in our thoughts. Landon and I both had tears in our eyes from how appreciative he was," she wrote.
Hurricane Irma Birthday Party
Just two days before Hurricane Irma hit, Jennifer Stine received a heartbreaking diagnosis: Her 3-year-old daughter Willow had leukemia. Willow's birthday was just two days away, but her family, friends, and presents were 40 miles away in Wesley Chapel. Stine was devastated, thinking her daughter would have nothing to celebrate her big day.
That's when the nurses and hospital staff at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL stepped in and threw her her own private birthday party. With the arm that wasn't strapped to an IV, Willow dipped her finger into the cake frosting and exclaimed, "I always wanted this!" as she opened gifts from the staff. So sweet!
Hurricane Harvey Photoshoot Baby
Sweet little Hope Chimeno was only 10 days old when her parents boarded a rescue boat belonging to brothers Cris and Clint Sanford. Cris' wife, Katy, put the Cheminos in touch with her friend Noelle Miller, who offered up her services for this heartwarming photoshoot.
"I don't have a lot of time or money," Mills told TODAY, "but what I can give is my photography. It's a story of triumph. In a heavy time, she's a ray of sunshine."
Hurricane Irma Love What Matters
Deanna Feist and her husband are from Brandon, FL, but they were camping out in Pigeon Forge, TN to escape Hurricane Irma. They were on their way to The Old Mill restaurant when their car started malfunctioning. Fortunately, a kind stranger who happened to be the restaurant's manager helped jumpstart their car.
As they finished up lunch at The Old Mill, their server left them a letter. Inside was a meal voucher, $200, and a note that read: "You are probably here to escape the Hurricane Irma. My brother lives in Tallahassee, FL. I am saddened to see such devastation in this beautiful state. I hope everything will turn out ok for you guys. Enclosed please accept my gift to you in case you need to buy a battery for your car. Also I am enclosing a meal ticket so you can come back to eat here. Good luck and Thanks for visiting my restaurant."
Hurricane Irma Birth Story
Childbirth isn't easy even when you've got a room full of friends, family, and doctors helping you, so imagine the stress of having to give birth during a hurricane. Add to that the fact that you can't leave your home because of the weather conditions, so you have a doctor coaching you over the phone.
That's the situation one Miami woman found herself in during Hurricane Irma. While her identity was not released, the story does have a happy ending. She delivered a baby girl, and the Miami fire crew finally got to her and transported her to the hospital.
Hurricane Irma Nun With Chainsaw
The phrase "nun with a chainsaw" sounds like something straight from a horror movie, but Sister Margaret Ann only wanted to aid the Hurricane Irma clean-up effort. An off-duty Miami police officer caught the nun in action (and in full nun habit!), and the Miami Police Department shared the heartwarming video.
"Thank you Sister and all of our neighbors that are working together to get through this!" they wrote.