June 17, 2016

Orlando Strong and Polka Dot Flea

It's been a tough week here in Orlando.  

Thank you to those that have sent messages and encouraging words.  It has taken a few days to wrap my head around what has happened in my community and to be able to share it with you.

It's a whole different feeling when terrorism strikes in your back yard.  The mass shootings occurred 7 blocks from my home.

3am Sunday morning I awoke to helicopters flying overhead, which is not uncommon since I live close to Orlando Health, a huge level one trauma hospital.  Their life flight helicopters are a common site and sound.   I was awoken again at 5am and this time I heard many helicopters and sirens.  I turned on the local TV station and could tell the newscaster was almost breathless, she said there had been a shooting downtown and there was a huge police presence, but they did not have any information. 

I was interested, but not alarmed, since there were no details and I was anxious to get to the second day of my Polka Dot Flea.

  In total oblivion I headed out, all I could think about was how fun the first day of the Polka Dot Flea had been.....Oh, what a difference a day will make.

We had lines around the building
And then a buzz of happy shoppers and sellers

It was a fun and festive atmosphere...So, why would  we think Sunday would be any different??

 When we got to the the Polka Dot Flea early Sunday morning, which is 7 miles from the shooting, there was a little talk from the vendors that had stayed at downtown hotels and saw all of the police and activity

Then news started trickling in......

...50 killed
50 wounded
7 trauma surgeons called in
In need of blood donations

State of Emergency...
What does that mean?  Should we close, evacuate?

The mood at the Flea changed dramatically, confusion, tears, anger, fears....All of the sudden the Polka Dot Flea was covered with a dark cloud.

We finished the day in sadness and some vendors started packing a little early, we understood....They just wanted to get home to their families

 5 days later the streets are still closed, the helicopters are still flying over head and there have been many vigils and gatherings.  

There is a silver lining, and that is how the community has pulled together.  I went to my bank yesterday, 2 doors down from the Pulse night club and they have opened their lobby to emergency respondents, media, local and national politicians, and anyone in  need of a cool retreat from the chaos.  They have free food, snacks, and beverages.  They said much of it was donated by Target, McDonald's, customers, and pretty much anyone that wanted to help.

 The blood bank is a couple blocks down and on Sunday as thousands lined up to donate blood the community jumped in and made sure the blood donors wanted for nothing.  The local Publix grocery loaded up their trucks and brought water and snacks, Chick fil A, who is never opens on Sundays, brought in workers to make and deliver sandwiches, local pizza shops delivered pizza by the car load, canopy's were bought in and even port a potties were delivered......

The Greenwood Cemetery, about 6 blocks from my house has donated burial plots to the victims.  My neighborhood website said there will be one burial today and 3 tomorrow...With many more to come.

 In the face of tragedy...So much love!

We are... 

 I don't want to get into politics, but I do believe we are at war.  I don't have the answers, but I pray that this will be a wake up call!

God Bless The USA