Friday, August 17, 2012

After the Storm

Weather in the Midwest this summer has been, well, grim. Temperatures have been extremely hot and rainfall a distant memory. The resulting effect was severe on people and even worse on the current crop of soybeans and corn. As the drought story dominated the national news, consumers became aware that food prices will rise accordingly in the near future.

Just when Midwestern citizens thought we were all doomed to dry up and blow away, what happened? It rained -- buckets. After a few lightweight showers during the past week, yesterday brought all the water that had been "on hold" for months.

A storm swept through our section of the Midwest yesterday at about 4 p.m. and rained like heck, wiping out thoughts of drought, dust and withering greenery that had become the focus of nearly every one.

Was the conversation today about how nice it was to get rain after such a long period? No. It was about the storm, the damage done, the end of summer and the onset of snow. Everywhere I went, someone was repeating stories they had heard about the storm.

It was quite a storm. Not a walk-down-the-street-holding-an-umbrella rain. The wind began to pick up mid-afternoon. The first thing I heard was a severe thunderstorm warning for counties far to the north of our town, spreading to the eastern portions of the state. Then a second warning was announced for counties to the south. Finally, a tornado warning was announced for our community shortly before the tornado sirens began.

The storm either changed direction suddenly and increased in strength or the weather forecasters were completely off point. For whatever reason, the storm was strong and headed right for our community.

The wind howled and rain continued for about an hour. Fortunately, my house is tight and the roof is new. But power was out at the onset of darkness as I pondered (1) was I really interested in eating anyway and (2) how long the power would be off. It was dark for only about a couple of hours as the power company figured out how to redirect service to everyone.

Our community has many lovely trees. We enjoy seeing them leaf-out in the Spring and change to bright colors in the Fall. However, the combination of full limbs and power lines has long presented issues when storms occur. Limbs get icy in winter and drop heavy limbs on power lines. Result: cold houses. In wind and rain, limbs get blown and snapped off, resulting in limbs on power lines. Result: no electricity.

By early this morning limbs had been dragged street-side for miles around. City workers picked up the limb debris and helped restore the appearance of our community. Multiple trucks and cherry pickers were visible all over the county today as crews worked to install new power lines and repair the damage.

Things could certainly have been much worse. Near the 4th of July this year, the news reported stories of families in the eastern U.S. which suffered power outages that lasted for days, even weeks. Hot weather and no power? Yes, we were lucky out here in the Midwest. Damage was minimal and thankfully no one was seriously hurt.

Unfortunately, most Midwesterners have a severe case of "my glass is half empty." They simply do not realize how nice life is here. Perhaps it's the result of isolationism, perhaps too much reality TV. For all the things that might have happened during yesterday's storm, most repeated stories involved people helping other people. Workers at a small business building near the center of the storm helping stranded drivers to safety. Cross country runners from the local high school who were given shelter in local homes along their running route. Such examples of concern would never occur at many other locations.

Whether it is help during a storm or assistance during dire situations, it's a shame that so many people have become blind to the good will that exists around them every day.

No comments:

Post a Comment