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Our View: As Irma refugees among us wait in limbo, we have an opportunity to show our hospitality




The devastation of the past two weeks, first in Texas and then in Florida, has touched our generous nature.  


Americans everywhere have responded to the call for help after hurricanes Harvey and Irma destroyed billions of dollars in property while driving tens of thousands from their homes. 


This week, evacuees from Florida began arriving in the Golden Triangle. For a few, this was a planned destination, a place where they could find shelter until they are able to return home. For the majority, however, the Golden Triangle was the first destination on their flight north with available hotel rooms. Hotel parking lots are filled with cars with Florida license plates. 


In times of these disasters, we often look for ways to help. We donate money to relief organizations such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army, participate in clothing and food drives, even volunteer to work on recovery efforts. All of these efforts are important and commendable.  


But the presence of these Florida evacuees present us another opportunity to give in a unique way.  


Hundreds of evacuees are among us and while they are physically safe, they carry with them the burden of not knowing what they will find when they return home or, at this point, even when they will be allowed to return.  


For many, a return to normalcy may be weeks, even months away and the psychological burden can been a heavy load to bear.  


For us, it is an opportunity to live up to our reputation for hospitality yet again. 


In your daily travels, you may well encounter these displaced visitors. We urge you to offer support, sympathy, encouragement. Maybe even a hug or two. It may seem like a small thing, but sometimes even the smallest gestures are powerful.  


There may also be another opportunity that carries a greater commitment. Because Mississippi State University has a home football game on Saturday, the hotel rooms currently occupied by evacuees are not available this weekend. Many evacuees may not be able to return home by then, so they'll either have to leave the Golden Triangle to find hotel rooms or find some other accommodations. For those who can, there is an opportunity to turn evacuees into weekend guests at their homes. 


That, we feel, would be a great act of compassion. Who knows? It could be the beginning of a lifetime friendship. 


So, whether it's the small gestures of kindness we provide over the course of the next few days or an invitation to open our homes, this situation provides all of us opportunities to help. 


Let's make sure we make the most of that chance. 


It is, after all, what we are famous for.



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