Fiber artist Somiko Harrington and her family evacuated their first floor home and work studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as Hurricane Irma was churning up the coast of Florida. They had made plans to evacuate until the storm was completely over. When she returned several days later, she was faced with significant flooding and damage in her home and studio. Although Somiko had been through several hurricanes in Florida, she had never experienced anything like this before.
The impact of the storm damaged or destroyed her tools, equipment, completed work, clothes, furnishings and much more. Her family had no electricity for weeks and she was out of work for a month with limited transportation. Luckily, she was able to receive assistance from local city resources and CERF+.
“I called CERF+ during the evacuation,” Somiko describes. “They were always there to answer questions. I had so much gratitude for the fact that I never had to wait a long time for any kind of response. Their services are consistently amazing and they really care about my needs. I received immediate help after my application was submitted. Thanks to CERF+, I was able to restore some of my work tools and art supplies for upcoming craft shows and projects and I’m able to start recovering.”
For many artists like Somiko, the storm temporarily put a halt to her creative work and income. The experience was a wake-up call. “This experience has made me realize how I need to protect my intellectual property and assets and be more business savvy about the value of my work.”
When asked about the lessons she learned from Irma, Somiko shares:
“Tell your story and give advice on what you would have done differently. Don’t allow outside influences and inexperienced people tell you what you need to do. Research and find the best resources you need for yourself and your family. Make sure you’re in a safe place and seek advice from experienced hurricane survivors. Read forums and other stories of hurricane artists. Most of all keep water, non-perishable food, a backpack kit, a generator, flash lights and candles, and cash emergency funds in case you cannot get to a bank or ATM.”