We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Like some (or many) of Maggie's readers and contributors, my family and I were bedeviled the past two weeks by Sandy and a freak winter storm. We encountered Sandy after returning from a visit with my son, who is in Ohio at college. While we were in Ohio, we picked up flashlights, batteries and other odds and ends, having been forewarned that these items were sold out already in New Jersey.
On the drive from Ohio back to NJ we were surprised to see so many trucks from utility companies. All were headed toward the storm, making my "it's all hype" attitude shift toward one of "what do they know that I don't? I sure am glad they are taking this seriously."
In July, I wrote about how we take some things for granted, and the mindset of progress. I wrote it after a storm which made me think about why we put so much effort into clean-ups. After Sandy, I'll double down on what I wrote, because there are attitudes which are geared toward productivity and those which are not. Productive people prepare for the worst, and then begin to build as soon as the worst has past. What I saw, within 24 hours of the storm, was virtually every house on my block clearing debris off their yards to prepare for pickup by the Department of Public Works. Several of us took it a step further and started making runs down to the Conservation Center instead of waiting for DPW. I was amazed at how quickly all of us put our minds toward moving past the storm. As concerned as we were with the lack of power, there were bigger issues to deal with, both at that moment and in the days ahead.
A productive mindset doesn't just think about the here and now, or the immediate needs of oneself. My wife and I realized that losing power was an annoyance, not a catastrophe, even if it was a major annoyance at times. We worked hard to keep things in perspective. Several friends lost homes, others were forced out. Relatively speaking, losing heat and light for 10 days didn't represent a burden.
So, as we creeped back toward normalcy, my wife's first stop was Costco, where she bought a box of supplies which we dropped off at a local relief center. We checked our local Patch.com to see which centers were delivering directly to those in need, and that is where we delivered the box. I was pleased to see a room piled high with the goods requested. I asked if they needed help packing, but was told they had plenty of hands. I will provide my help when, and if, it is needed. Sometimes just giving them what they ask for is enough, and then you step out of the way.
We tried to do our part in other ways. Our next door neighbor has a 2 year old, and had a newborn shortly before the storm. We let them use our firewood and gave them a space heater. Another neighbor, who had power, gave them a generator. Sometimes little things make a bigger impact than large scale operations. Our neighbor took in another friend of theirs who lost power but had young children.
Most people went out of their way to provide for those who were inconvenienced. What makes our country great isn't our government. It's the people. We get things done without government intervention because we know it's the right thing to do. That is important. Doing things because it's the right thing to do is essence of morality. Doing things because government tells or makes us do it is just obedience. The immediacy of activity putting our own lives back on a better footing, as well as helping those who were hurt more substantially, is the great story of the last two weeks.
Hopefully, those who lost far more than I will rebuild quickly and will be in a better, stronger place than they were prior to the storm. In the meantime, I'm sure we will all be doing something to help, however small it may seem.
I've had power for 4 days now, and my primary 'problem' is a commute that is extremely long and terribly crowded. I count my blessings. Just another First World Problem.
Too bad not everyone is that nice - a family member had someone steal some of her firewood while one of her neighbors had someone steal her solar-powered walkway lights (they actually ripped them out of the ground)
The really sad part is that they are on a deadend road - no one would be driving by unless they know the area. So, it was one of their neighbors! And both of the theft victims are in their 80s. Sinful, just sinful.
My Better-Two-Thirds required medical attention that could not be quickly acquired so I was forced to semi-relocate about 100 miles northwest of my home near the Jersey shore. Got her the attention she needed and left her there since, as my astute daughter pointed out, the first thing to go is the power, the next thing is often the quality of the water and that wouldn't be the best thing given the medical situation.
BTW, the problem is not life threatening and the healing has begun, it just needed attention and the hospitals near us were struggling with aux power and people not nearly as able to relocate.
While The Mrs. stayed warm and basked in the warm glow of electric light, I did a lot of back and forth tending to various issues with home, neighbors, mom, etc.
My neighborhood is much the same as yours, Bulldog. When the wind dies down enough to be safe from falling limbs, or the snow slows enough to make shoveling sensible, the cleanup commences.
In this case there was more than even we could manage. Help where possible but very large oaks on houses are beyond my ability to remove. I can get the branches too big to drag cut and moved from driveways but not entire oaks from roofs. We needed pros for that.
Lottsa wood that will need to be cut and stacked and dried for next winter.