On September 16th, Mayor Wayne Messam hosted a Day of Prayer, inviting all who wished to attend from Miramar and surrounding areas. The idea was conceived by the Mayor’s wife Angela, and on somewhat short notice, almost 200 people came to the event. The Mayor and his staff were able to secure responses from four clergy members of different faiths to deliver prayers at the service.
The event was held in front of City Hall and people gathered in front of and all around the fountain area. Bertram Gillings from K-LOVE radio played uplifting music before the service for those in attendance.
In the Mayor’s opening remarks, he highly applauded first responders Fire Department, Police Department, and Public Works for beginning debris pick-up at the earliest possible hour. They began on Saturday morning at about 2am and the Mayor himself accompanied them. They assessed damage to that point and started clearing public roadways and neighborhoods immediately. That made it possible for the Fire and Police Departments to access people with emergency needs.
According to the Mayor, Miramar Parkway was unpassable from University Drive all the way to 64th Street. About 90% of the community lost power, which had yet to be fully restored one week after the storm.
He then introduced Pastor Wayne Lomax from The Fountain Church who delivered an opening prayer. His message was one of gratitude but also about recovery for islands, such as Barbuda which was completely devastated by Hurricane Irma, and the Keys and west coast of Florida.
Pastor Lomax continued by introducing each clergy member who followed him during the ceremony. The clergy members included: Pastor Wesley Green of Christway Baptist Church; Bashir Fadl representing the Muslim Community; Pastor Pete Tokar from The Bridge Church; and Pastor Mark Rodriguez of Calvary Fellowship. Each said prayers about a particular topic. There were prayers of Thanksgiving, Remembrance, Healing and Restoration, and Rebuilding and Unification.
The formal ceremony was closed with the heart-felt song “Amazing Grace” with participation by everyone. Representatives of the Police Department, who stood at the back of the crowd, quietly returned to their duties afterward. The street was lined with emergency vehicles and clean-up trucks, ready to begin their work and respond to urgent needs.
People from as far as Miami and Fort Lauderdale came to bring their nonperishable items and food and to take part in the service. Among the contributions were battery-operated lanterns, water, canned goods, clothing, and cleaning items. One family brought several cases of bottled water and numerous other items. Even the smallest child in the family of four had his hands full. Donations are being used to help Miramar evacuees and families who need support. Further donations continue to be received at City Hall for distribution as needed.
Our City Miramar spoke to many of the people there before and after the official event. All Miramar residents had positive things to say about the City’s quick response to the aftermath and the Mayor’s ongoing community support. Two of the participants, School Board Member Patti Good and her husband Tom Good, Commissioner for the South Broward Drainage District, said the City’s swift action during and after Hurricane Irma was superior. Both said the strong connection between City officials and the community helped the residents maintain a positive outlook. The Mayor’s hands-on commitment to helping the residents of Miramar is a great example for others to follow.
People were eager to share their stories of kindness from others they didn’t even know. There were many about neighbors helping each other clear yards and homes of debris, sharing water, food, cellphone usage, and much more. Many new friendships have been made, meeting under such difficult circumstances. One resident, Ria, said a 25-year-old tree on her street partially fell and the sidewalk was holding it up. It was a safety hazard, so all the neighbors gathered together to clean the street of branches and other rubbish. This way the City could easily navigate the road to remove the tree. After speaking with the Mayor, she said the tree would be taken away the same day.
Another resident, who declined to give her name, told us she invited a family she met during cleanup to stay in her home. Their roof was badly damaged and they were having difficulty finding a place to go. As it turned out, they only lived a few homes away on the same street. She said she is grateful she met them and now has some lovely new friends.
The people of Miramar and other areas were very thankful for this gathering of hope and unity. Speaking with many, they expressed the need for optimism and a respite from daily efforts to regain normalcy in their lives.
If you would like to make donations to those in need, you may drop them off at City Hall located at 2300 Civic Center Place.