The arrival of Hurricane Irma has tested the faith and resolve of civilians and police officers alike. While the spirit of humanity and the will to survive is strong, this is a hurricane like never seen before in modern times.
Hurricane Irma is a gargantuan-sized hurricane that has slammed into the Caribbean, Florida and nearby Gulf states with an intensity that has not been seen in generations. The life-threatening, once-in-a-thousand-year intensity storm has brought the ravages of floods, storm surges, and widespread property damage in its wake.
However, even as Hurricane Irma raged against the Caribbean and Gulf States, the spirit of humanity shone like a beacon as people helped each other in need. Neighbors helped neighbors and private businesses, churches and state buildings opened their doors as temporary shelters.
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Public servants have a responsibility to protect citizens, uphold the law, and offer aid when possible, even in the midst of natural catastrophes like category 5 hurricanes. As Irma slammed into the Florida panhandle, all pre-scheduled days off and personal leave time for police officers was canceled in anticipation of public need for law and order.
For all of their heroism, police officers are human beings too. They too, will suffer property damage and suffer losses due to Irma, just like the everyday citizens they are pledged to protect.
A sense of hope will be sorely needed for the people who survive Irma’s wake. As if on cue, a small slice of it arrived in the form of a widely-tweeted photograph that was shared by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
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— Fort Lauderdale PD (@FLPD411) September 10, 2017
Officer Kenneth Somma had just finished a grueling 12-hour duty shift helping people affected by Irma as tornadoes were forming and flooding concerns worsened in the immediate area. Somma had to take shelter and weather out the worst of the storm before assuming his patrol duties with his K-9 partner Eddie, and go back out into the heart of hurricane weather again.
Officer Somma was photographed as he slept on a cot with his K-9 police dog partner Eddie laying on the floor under him, his boots and rucksack nearby. As Officer Somma slept after a shift during Hurricane Irma’s initial onslaught, his outstretched hand is held by Eddie’s paw in a non-verbal show of professional support and encouragement.
The photograph exemplifies the sense of duty and personal code to help the public that police officers live by. The photograph also shows the powerful connection between people and animals, especially in times of crisis.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department shared the photograph with the public via tweet under the hashtag #WeAreInThisTogether. The spirit of solidarity displayed in the photograph has touched everyone who has viewed it, with over 1,700 Twitter followers retweeting the image and over 4,000 liking it.
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As the photograph was being retweeted thousands of times, hundreds of viewers wrote thanks of appreciation to Officer Somma, K-9 Officer Eddie and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Facebook poster Amy King wrote, ” God bless all first responders…Your heart and courage can’t be beat..Thank you for protecting and saving us.”
The damage from Irma has yet to be calculated. But the people in its path got a temporary and heartfelt reprieve by seeing the resolve of police and first responders in a photograph of a sleeping Officer Somma and his loyal canine, Eddie.
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