We were blessed here in Crestview and Northwest Florida as Hurricane Irma missed us. In other parts of our state, Floridians were hard hit by this monster storm.

It has been heartening to see the pictures of neighbors helping neighbors in Florida as well as Texas. This is what being a friend and neighbor is truly about.

Leviticus 19:18 states, "… but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD." This is not merely a suggestion, rather a commandment from the Lord. It was inspiring to see the young people in Houston in their small boats going around and rescuing dogs from the flood waters, and others rescued cats and horses.

In areas of Florida, many prepared and distributed food to those who were hungry. Christian organizations were on the ground quickly to help. Groups such as Samaritan's Purse, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and the Seventh Adventists were among the groups that offered immediate relief in both Florida and Texas.

I have friends in the Orlando area who, once they had power restored, invited their friends or acquaintances to come and stay with them. This was an open-ended invitation including people they have never met. What a great example of compassion.

Gov. Rick Scott was very proactive in asking those in flood zones and outer lying areas to evacuate. "We can rebuild your home; we cannot rebuild your life. This is a life-threatening storm. Protecting life is an absolute top priority," he said.

As difficult as it is to lose one's home or belongings, they can be replaced. Life can't.

Hurricane season is not over. Don't let down your vigilance. We have Jose and Max gathering strength in the Atlantic. Make sure you have supplies on hand should we get another hurricane and take proper precautions for yourself and your family.

If you desire to help your fellow Floridians or those in Texas and other states hit by these hurricanes, you can donate through your local church or through Samaritan's Purse or the Salvation Army.

Now is the time that we as Americans need to stand strong together.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.