In this photo taken with a drone Sept. 30, debris and damaged buildings are seen two days after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. Associated Press file

We can’t help but sympathize with victims of floods, hurricanes, fires and other disasters.

As we watch the television news showing homes demolished, lives and lifelong possessions destroyed, and victims devastated by unimaginable loss, a little voice in the back of our head says, “There but the grace of God go I” and “It’s just a matter of time before it happens to us.”

We seem to be insulated, somewhat, in this northeastern-most state. We’ve had our hurricanes, floods and ice storms that interrupted our lives for short periods, though nothing like what we see in other parts of the country.

I often say, “Thank God we are in Maine,” far removed from places that experience annual hurricane season, but realistically it is naive to think we are immune.

As the Earth gets hotter and climate change threatens our existence, we have to be prepared.

Such disasters feel closer to home when we talk with friends and relatives in Florida, impacted by Hurricane Ian.

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So far our own experiences with weather events have been far less significant than those we’ve seen in places such as Fort Myers, where whole swathes of communities, homes and businesses lay devastated.

You might say Mainers have tasted merely a hint of what can happen here.

I was living in western Massachusetts during Maine’s flood of 1987, but recall seeing the struggles of my hometown, Skowhegan, on the television news. I remember speaking on the phone at the time with my sister who was watching the Wesserunsett Stream rush over a small bridge off the Notch Road as her 6-year-old son screamed in terror.

Listening to National Public Radio from my Massachusetts home, I heard a live interview with Percy York, a firefighter who was inside the Skowhegan fire station on the island in the Kennebec River as water flooded over the Margaret Chase Smith Bridges that connect the island to the north and south sides of town. Marooned there, York was the last holdout, determined to see the station through the storm.

It was terrifying just hearing about such weather events, which occur maybe once or twice in a lifetime here in Maine.

During the blizzard of 1978, I was attending college in Connecticut. As the storm slammed Hartford and the streets were buried in snow, people had to ski to get to stores to buy food. Then-Gov. Ella Grasso announced anyone trying to drive on roadways in vehicles would be fined.

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More recently, the ice storm of 1998 in Maine left hundreds of thousands of people without power for days as freezing rain coated trees, power lines, homes and anything else exposed to the elements.

At the Morning Sentinel, a reporter slept with his wife and children on the lunchroom floor, wrapped in sleeping bags. Colby College hosted a shelter for those who were cold and hungry. We had no power at the newspaper, so we had to travel to our sister paper, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, to write stories. Driving on Interstate 95 from Waterville to Augusta with two other colleagues was dicey to say the least, and the terrain looked as if nuclear winter had struck.

We still had our homes, however, and our lives, though we had some mop-up to do.

People in other parts of the U.S. and world aren’t so fortunate.

We count our blessings here in Maine as the world around us seems to crumble in various ways.

Though it’s just a matter of time before we get our due, we’ll take every safe moment we’re dealt, gratefully.

There were those who laughed when Al Gore produced his climate change film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” 16 years ago.

Well, they aren’t laughing now.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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