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A Matter Of Inconvenience

July 11, 2012
Wetzel Chronicle

Mother Nature on occasion reminds us that with a quick breath of wind she can change our lives. More than likely we all have experienced the loss of power from a summer storm or winter snow and ice. For the most part it is a minor inconvenience in our daily lives. Electrical power for the most is restored fairly quickly when taken away on occasion by nature.

Unfortunately, for many in our valley the high winds of a week and a half ago have still altered their daily lives. Some whose homes are on one of the areas' ridges or distant hollows may still be without power for some time. Even areas of town may still have problems with their electric power. The unfortunate fact is that even with 4,000 people working in the state to reestablish power, they can only make repairs happen so quickly. Working 24 hours a day until everyone has power restored, the crews will work to make repairs to the power grid we all take for granted. Unfortunately, if you are one of those people whose homes may not yet have power in this summer's heat, that can be life changing.

We were fortunate that as far as I know no lives were lost locally from the summer storm. Yet it is impossible to say no one suffered. For the ill and elderly the loss of power and heat made daily life a challenge. The simple matter of finding water and food for some the first few days was the main priority. I know for my family, we have said next time we will be better prepared. Truth is we most likely will make those preparations but with time they will be forgotten. Fortunately these types of events for the most of us happen rarely in our lives. The events of that quick moving storm were terrible for many, but I guess they could have been worse and for that I am thankful.

But for many of us repairs to homes and restoring routine to our lives will take weeks to return to normal. Homes will be repaired and yards cleaned up from scattered debris. Trees that have been around longer than many of us have been cut up and taken away. Vehicles and property destroyed by the storm are being appraised to be repaired or replaced. But even when our things are repaired or replaced, it will never be the same for some. In the end, we will try to reestablish our lives as if nothing had happened. But, the truth is the storm touched each of us not only where you can see and touch, it also touched us inside. It took away our sense of control in our secure lives. Daily routines were changed and our safe secure lifestyles may have changed forever.

After the storm, the people I saw around town waiting for gas or trying to find water or other necessities looked different to me. They had switched from their routine lives to one of survival with a more serious look. Yet for the most part people of the area still asked with a smile, "Did you have much damage? Have you heard anything about the power?" Those that could, offered help to others that were in need. For some it may have been an offer of cold water to the person cleaning the street in front of their house of storm debris. Others may have gone from one neighbor's house to the next offering to let them run their refrigerator or freezer off the generator in the back of their truck.

Bridgeport Equipment became a life line for many with generators to power homes and businesses during the first days of the crisis. With the help from the city, a generator gave power to the Sunoco station to supply much needed gasoline and diesel fuel after the storm. City police and firefighters helped to organize those coming into the station for gas and supplies. New mayor Keith Nelsen helped to direct traffic in and out of the station. I am sure that was not part of the job description when he decided to run for the office. And Bill Witschey, along with his employees, was once again there for the community to help where he could in this crisis.

There were many other people and businesses that helped the citizens of the area during this difficult time. Those countless acts of help and kindness will for the most part go unheralded and recognized. But for those people who received help from businesses, neighbors, and even unknown strangers will forever be grateful.

I realize everything did not go perfectly the days after the storm hit the community, but still people tried to make the best of a bad situation. A hundred years ago, a storm such as this would have been a minor inconvenience to the community. But today it becomes a major inconvenience to us all.

I thought for a minute as to why the difference today verses 1912? The answer, electricity. The element in our world that drives everything that makes lives easier than it was a century ago. In a sense it showed us that for all we do to plan our lives, it is held together by the power that flows through the power lines over head. It seems everything is somehow linked to electricity and what it does for us. In fact, it is so much part of our lives it plays a part in controlling the way we live. Storage of our food supply, the heating and cooling of our homes, and the light that makes our world seem safe and bright when the darkness comes each day.

I came into town just before dark on Saturday evening. Before long the light in the sky was gone and the town I have known my whole life disappeared into the darkness along with the people. I knew the houses and people were still there somewhere in the night, but somehow without light to illuminate the town I felt a sense of loss, not being able to see them. I also felt a loss not being able to find information about what was happening in the community. The streets and homes were dark and so was a source of information.

Electricity, an invisible power that flows around each of us every day, has become almost like a drug that we each need to survive in today's world. Take electricity away for a time and we feel the pains of withdrawal from our fix of electric power. A hundred years ago people relied on their ability to survive each day with personal ingenuity. Today, we must plug ourselves into the grid to make our survival easier. Perhaps the recent events we experienced will help us prepare for the next time Mother Nature decides to take away that thing we call electricity.

"Thank You" are two words easily said when someone does something good for you. And when the good deed is performed by so many different people, it seems those two words may be missed in the big picture. But the terrible events of the last couple of weeks for the most part can only be recognized by those words when spoken from the heart. I can only hope that in some way those who deserved to hear these words can be assured those of us who received your help are truly "Thankful" you were there when we needed help as a matter of convenience Thru the Lens.

 
 
 

 

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