We knew the hurricane was coming. I was leaving for a short, over night backpacking trip in the mountains before the storm, so before I left I took care of those miscellaneous things - packed up the lawn furniture, put all the deck flowers in a secure area, let down the water in the pool, etc. Our house was as ready as we could make it. Martha called as I was returning from the trip and asked me not to come home but to go straight to our lake house. The hurricane was beginning to look like it would have an impact even there and we needed to get the boat out of the water. When I arrived, there was a huge amount of activity. Most camp owners could not get there so those who were started the huge endeavor of getting everyone’s boat out. Everyone who had a hitch lined up while the rest helped hook up boat trailers. Once the boats were out, we placed them in sheltered areas and covered them as best we could. In all, I think they took out over 40 boats. Neighbors helping neighbors.
On Sunday Martha’s nephew was to be married. The weather got increasing worse as the day wore on with major flooding, trees down and the loss of power to a lot of areas. Everything started to go wrong - the hotel where the bridal party was staying lost power and they showered and dressed in the dark. Their hairdresser could not get out of her driveway. A friend drove an hour to get there, did everyone’s hair, in the dark, with no hairdryers, curling irons, etc. Then they found out that the bakery who did their wedding cake was totally flooded and the area closed off to all vehicles. There was no way to get the cake. A call went out to those of us still with power to make some cupcakes and bring them early. One of the guests then came and elegantly decorated them all. The ceremony was held up for the many guests arriving late as roads were closed. A few showed up in shorts as they had been evacuated from their homes, and many laughed about how disheveled they were from no showers, dryers, or irons. The venue’s parking lot was totally flooded so someone volunteered to ferry guests back and forth. The hall had lost power and was running on a generator that kicked on and off, causing the music to stop at awkward times - like the couple’s first dance. Whenever the music stopped, people would sing to fill in the blanks. I think it was the most beautiful wedding I had ever been to, with everyone helping to overcome the challenges.
My town suffered a lot of damage - more than a foot of rain fell, every creek breached, flooding was wide spread, huge trees were uprooted, farm land and buildings ravaged, roads washed out and many people still do not have power. Through it all our fire departments, who are all volunteers, were out helping pump out people’s basements, cutting up trees that blocked roadways and securing downed power lines. They had left their homes and families to help others. All night long. They are still out there.
I work in the public sector and spend a good part of my day listening to people complain. I probably shouldn’t enjoy major storms as much as I do. But there is something about a shared emergency that just brings out the best in people. And for that I am extremely grateful.