Becoming a hero is easier than you think, author says
Becoming a hero may be easier than you think, according to a Canadian who hopes her new book will encourage others to take the little steps that could make a big difference to the victims of disasters.
In her book "Disaster Heroes," Suzanne Bernier shares stories of people who saw a chance to help others and immediately took action.
Bernier was inspired to write the book while helping rebuilding efforts in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, she said on CTV's Canada AM.
That's where she met New Orleans native Ronnie Goldman, and heard his tale of how it took just one phone call for him to help victims of 9/11.
Like many Americans, Goldman was glued to his television that day, watching as then-President George W. Bush spoke from the World Trade Center site, she said. Seeing Bush speak from atop a fire truck, Goldman was struck that almost 100 service vehicles had been lost, and thought he could help rebuild the New York City Fire Department.
The next day, Goldman called a local radio talk show to help raise money to bring fire trucks to New York City, Bernier said. His efforts eventually raised more than $1 million.
Four years later, the first fire truck Goldman sent to New York City returned to his hometown of New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. But it didn't come alone, Bernier said.
Almost 350 fire fighters accompanied the fire truck named "The Spirit of Louisiana," to help in the relief efforts. The truck was later sent back to New York again after Hurricane Sandy.
"Instead of just sitting there saying, 'Well, I wish somebody would do something about this,' he just picked up the phone and did it," Bernier said. "It just took him - as his wife said - 'to get off his butt and do something about it.'"
But stories of heroism aren't only found in the United States, Bernier said.
The book also shares the story of Denise McIntyre who helped pet owners in Slave Lake, Alta.
A fire swept through the town about 250 kilometres north of Edmonton and destroyed more than 500 homes in 2011.
Residents believed they would only be gone for a day or two, Bernier said, but were instead displaced for two weeks.
McIntyre, a local pet groomer, decided to stay in Slave Lake and look for the pets that the evacuated residents had left behind. She and a team of volunteers rescued, sheltered, and cared for more than 300 pets until their owners were able to come back home.
Bernier said it's easy to find normal people such as these making extraordinary efforts, even at the sites of the most tragic disasters.
"Every time you see a bad image on the news, there will also be something good happening," Bernier said. "For every negative story…there are thousands of positive ones."