When The Fifth Column was first envisioned, we wanted it to be more than just another independent news outlet. We wanted it to be a hub to facilitate real change and mobilize people to better the world. From the beginning, long-term plans existed to build a community that acted when it needed to. Hurricane Harvey provided a proving ground to see how far we’d come in that regard.
We saw journalists and readers drop what they were doing and travel to the impact zone from at least 14 states. We saw people who had never heard of TFC reach out to us for help. Volunteers connected to the TFC network coordinated and delivered supplies, rescued people, volunteered in shelters, and ran interference when government agencies and NGOs got in the way of helping people. Even today, we have people from our community recovering bodies, a traumatic and grim task that many of the most seasoned relief workers shy away from.
Now as Hurricane Irma approaches, our readers and journalists are standing by, trucks and vans loaded, to head to the impact zone. Some of those waiting to head to Florida have just returned from Texas.
The Fifth Column only failed in one regard: we didn’t report as it was happening, we were focused too much on the rescue, relief, and recovery operations. That’s a problem I’m glad we had. I have no plans to change it. As the hurricanes clear, we will encourage our journalists to write first-hand accounts of their experiences. It’s won’t be news, but more like stories of the first time we ever mobilized on the scale we did. We’d also like to hear your stories. Whether you were on a “cowboy convoy”, had a weapon pointed at you on your way to volunteer at a shelter, one of the dozens who distributed supplies, worked the radios, or even if you were one of the people sent on a bizarre task by a Fifth Columnist to further the effort, we want to hear your story. Please, send them here.
Over the last couple of years, TFC has done a lot. We’ve organized humanitarian efforts all over the world, but never on the scale of what we saw over the last week. TFC’s activities have undoubtedly saved lives before, but it was always in some abstract way of getting medicine where it needed to be in some far away country or getting the right information to the right people in time. Last week, our readers and journalists were quite literally pulling people out of harm’s way.
You are The Fifth Column. You’ve made this everything we ever wanted to be and I can’t thank you enough.
Justin King and the entire TFC team