June 26, 2018 | By Judy Walden Scarafile

It’s the start of another beautiful summer on the Cape and the Islands. A time for strolling on the beach and soaking in the blessings of being on this gem of a peninsula jutting into the sea. It’s not a convenient time to ponder the erosion of our shorelines and the suffering of our neighbors smacked by seasonal storms.

The Major Crisis Relief Fund (MCRF), which marked its second anniversary this month, is here to help us prepare for and respond to weather-related and man-made disasters. MCRF is a program of the Cape Cod Times Needy Fund. While the Needy Fund provides urgent financial assistance throughout the year to local individuals and families who are experiencing temporary financial hardship, MCRF provides long-term humanitarian aid to families and individuals during major crises.

So, while it’s a joy to play in the sand, let’s take a moment to reflect on recent events and not-so-sunny circumstances. Remember how wild this past winter was? March brought us raging tides, a river of saltwater on Route 6A, and 50 percent of Cape Codders without power. As part of relief efforts to help those people, including the most vulnerable elders, we at MCRF expanded our crisis preparedness by joining with the Red Cross, MEMA, Eversource, the Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps, the Disaster Animal Response Team, CERT Teams, Americorp, and the Barnstable County Incident Management Team of the MACC (Multi-Agency Coordination Center).

It takes this kind of cooperation to answer the call to duty, and MCRF steps in when the first responders aren’t enough, bringing an added layer of support through financial aid for food, housing, transportation, and medical and mental health services.

With that in mind, let’s consider the landscape now at the start of our hurricane season, which peaks mid-August through late-October. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center has predicted a 70 percent likelihood of up to 16 named storms with high winds, and up to nine of those could become hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. What are the odds of us getting hit with “the big one?” Well, taking into account the climate changes that fueled the epic storms of Harvey, Maria and Irma last year, we should realize that when it comes to storm devastation, it’s a question of when, not if.

Meanwhile, we also need to be mindful of non-seasonal terror attacks that tragically keep accelerating. We have so far literally dodged a bullet at home, but it’s harrowing to think about a mass shooting at one of our local schools or public venues. Or a health epidemic. Again, the question is, “Will we be prepared?”

For these reasons, we at MCRF are out in the community raising awareness and raising much-needed funds.

It’s time to consider what’s at stake and not put our heads in the sand. Please help us. For more information, including how to donate and volunteer, please visit our website at www.majorcrisisrelieffund.com. Thank you!

Judy Walden Scarafile is managing director of the Major Crisis Relief Fund.