A Montanan's Frustration With Hurricane Harvey

A Montanan's Frustration with Hurricane Harvey

Compassion coming from a state that's receiving no compassion.

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I want to first offer my condolences to all affected by Hurricane Harvey, in Houston and around the country and the world.

It has been a horrific tragedy in many ways, including the shock for those who have lost all their worldly possessions let alone those who have lost friends and family. And I encourage anyone and everyone who can afford to, to help with disaster relief through reliable resources. This article is in no way meant to minimize the tragedies and impact of Hurricane Harvey across the Southern United States.

That all being said, I would like to explain why the national media coverage has been unnervingly frustrating for me.

My beautiful home state, Montana, has been burning up for months with very little coverage or outrage of the lack of help we've gotten from our federal government. As of July 24, 2017, Montana has considered the numerous large wildfires a state emergency, with the executive order coming from Gov. Bullock. After already leaving multiple fires to burn for months, this executive order finally allowed for Montana to utilize resources such as the National Guard and other state services to combat the destruction being caused by fires.

To put this in perspective, on August 29th, 2017 evacuation orders were given to more than 1,100 homes in the Seeley Lake area of western Montana. Thousands more homes and families are being put in danger by various other fires throughout the state including those in Lolo, MT and throughout Ravalli County. There was no way of knowing that these fires would become such huge problems to these areas due to the fact that they were quick to ignite through lightning strikes. Because of this, there was very little warning for people to get their personal items or pets and livestock together before having to leave their homes. Thousands of people are being forced to find temporary housing situations and are scared of losing everything.

Firemen and women have been putting their lives in danger's way for months with very few chances to catch a couple hours of sleep and rest. Resources are scarce and with so many large fires on the doorstep of populated areas of the state, they seem to be outnumbered in many ways. Already two firefighters have lost their lives protecting their fellow statesmen. And without reasonable resources available, it's possible more casualties are to come.

While I am not one of those directly affected by the wildfires, as I haven't had a close friend or family member die and I haven't had to move my belongings out of harm's way, there is another issue affecting Western Montana.

Smoke.

For weeks the city of Missoula, MT has been blanketed in thick smoke, along with many other valleys in the area. The smoke has been so terrible that we are unable to see the usually prominent mountainous backdrop of the state we love so much. Almost everyone I know has had health concerns due to the smoke varying from headaches to vigorous bloody noses. For populations at risk to even more harm, such as the elderly and young children, the smoke has been even worse causing people to visit hospitals and clinics looking for some kind of relief.

The reason all of this information is pertinent to Hurricane Harvey in any way whatsoever is the fact that our federal government has refused to come to the aid of the people of Montana for months.

It is frustrating that the mainstream media has, if talked about it at all, kept the fires in Montana as fluff pieces.

It is frustrating to wake up one day to Facebook suggesting I give aid to those in Houston when Montana has been left to fend for itself.

It is frustrating to feel as though our lives and well being are seen as less important simply because we live in a less populated state, rarely thought of by our fellow countrymen.

So this is a hopeful call to action. My hope is that this can be an eye-opening moment for the country - to see that there are others in dire need of help. I hope that our federal government will see the need for more resources in Montana and declare a Federal state of emergency before fires begin to threaten larger cities. I am worried that Montana will fall farther to the bottom of concerns of the United States of America. But I am hopeful that the compassion of the American people can focus on two tragedies at once and come to the aid of southern states as well as Montana.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Staying Indoors Is Alright, But Going Outside Opens The Door To Endless Possibilities

Sometimes, we need to be outside in order to realize how delightful the world truly is so that we can limit our frustrations when things don't go as planned.

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Staying inside is a great feeling, I get that! But you certainly cannot choose to stay inside for a longer period of time because it will definitely lead to heightened levels of anxiety, stress, loneliness, fear, and irrational thoughts. After all, "an idle mind is a devil's workshop." I feel the same way and just love to be outside embracing the amazing sunshine when the weather's resplendent or even if it is raining.

This semester, I have had the pleasure of taking a biology course titled, "Field Ecology." Field Ecology is a dynamic course where the majority of the time is spent outdoors as opposed to inside the classroom. This class focuses on the hands-on application of locating extraneous organisms and plant-life that are a part of the NJ Bioblitz. Honestly, I have learned an extensive amount of information regarding the names of certain species that I have never even heard of and also learned more about certain species that I have certainly seen throughout my entire life.

In other words, being outside amidst nature reduces a tremendous amount of stress and makes you feel more rejuvenated than before. While a person may rejoice surfing the net or even doing simple errands indoors, they will not be able to experience the pure joy of interacting with the biodiversity found outdoors.

As a matter of fact, I love to bird watch and just hearing and seeing birds makes me further realize how beautiful life really is. Sometimes, we need to be outside in order to realize how delightful the world truly is so that we can limit our frustrations when things don't go as planned. For instance, TIME writer, Markham Heid writes, "Think of nature as the counterpoise to the scatteredness of your attention when you are swiping and clicking through different work, entertainment, and social sites. These "media multitasking" behaviors have been linked to higher rates of anxiety and depression-both of which time spent outdoors seems to combat."

This stands absolutely true to the fact that such tech-savvy activities will cause a person to lose moments of self-satisfaction and self-motivation. These activities are considered dry and will tend to exhaust individuals even more. However, an alternative solution is to go outside even for a few minutes to reassess your own personal level of growth and optimism. After all, have you ever met anyone who would prefer staying inside rather than outside for most of the day?

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