Since the hurricane, those in the Panama City, Florida, region have had to grow accustomed to changes, and more are in store.
Change can be about as fun as doing your taxes, but it is necessary at times. Adjusting to new norms is something we are faced with now and likely will face in the future, given our proximity to the Gulf and the technological advances that have raised our standard of living.
Adjusting to the changes can be seen as a challenge or an opportunity. Viewing something as a challenge can condition your brain to think it must overcome something negative, and you respond in kind. How many people (other than the math nerds) liked to do their math homework? It's probably few, but you had to do it anyway. An opportunity, however, is a challenge in which you expect a positive outcome — an improvement from which you can benefit.
And that's what Michael has forced Bay District Schools to do: to be both prudent and to plan for the future. We owe it to current students to provide them the best "normal" as possible, but unfortunately, that requires changes that have uncomfortable drawbacks. For instance, some students likely will have to be shifted to new schools. The upside is the potential for a new set of friends, new teachers, new halls and new opportunities. The change, however, is a challenge, but Bay District School students have proven once and again they are up to a challenge, and we expect this to be no different.
School parents are being presented with a challenge as well. Working adults are busy, and it's not at all easy to just change your routine, but doing so as seamlessly as possible is vital to ensure our children experience minimal disruption. They already have seen destruction that, ideally, no child would ever have to witness. It is our job now, as a community, to think about their future, their education and their opportunities. Many who read this will depend on the next generation to ensure their lives improve, just as their parents did for them.
It's quite easy to just throw up your hands and spit out a four-letter word, but that's not the example we want to set, and this shift will give us an opportunity to readjust along with our kids. They see things from a different viewpoint — just like every generation has done before us — and we are hopeful their positive outlook will rub off on us adults.
If you're not a parent, talk to one. They might need someone to talk to about the struggles of life, and in return, you can relate your struggles.
Dealing with tragedies as a community is a better way to cope than trying to do it all on your own. That's an unnecessary challenge no one needs.
A challenge no one needs but we are facing regardless is a new water table. It is too early to gauge the extent of the change in the water table, but many have been reminded of this unwelcome reality as the winter storms have dropped heavy rains over the past few weeks.
There have always been places in Bay County that tended to flood in a rainstorm, but since the hurricane, we have received anecdotal reports about water pooling up in more places and new leaks seemingly springing out of nowhere. One factor that likely has played a part is the lack of trees, especially in places like Panama City's Cove neighborhood, which housed some of the city's most beautiful old trees. Now the trees are gone, and the city's drainage system can no longer keep up in the strongest storms — especially ones that are accompanied by winds that can pick up debris and add it to an already clogged system.
As you're cleaning up these messes, don't forget to notify your municipality or the county so that they can determine where the problems exist and how to fix them. Be aware that just one 100-foot-tall tree can absorb 11,000 gallons of water from the soil every season, according to the USDA Forest Service, so when you multiply that by dozens (if not hundreds) of trees, you can see how the soil here just cannot absorb as much water as it used to. The only place it can go is into new puddles and, eventually, down into an overtaxed drainage system.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD