Today I drove down a road that cut through a large section of pine trees. At least 75% of the trees lay on the ground, snapped by the winds from Hurricane Sandy. Electrical wires were everywhere, entwined in the branches. It was a very strong reminder that we have a long way to go. “Normal” is a long way off.
Snow covers the ground today. Snow! A Nor’easter a week after a hurricane. I heard someone joke that next week is the plague of locust. It can feel that way. Many many people still do not have power. Gas lines are still long. Schools are still closed. Yet I have witnessed a lot more positive than negative.
I think initially people were in shock. So many changes. But as the week wore on people began to get out and help. I touched on this last week, but it seems to be growing stronger each day. That desire to help others; to do what you can.
Everyone is looking for ways to help. Fundraisers, making dinner for neighbors, cutting up fallen trees, doing laundry, watching each other’s children, allowing friends to move in; you name it, it’s being done. Earlier this week I was taking my kids to school (they were finally back after a week off!) and we passed our local fairgrounds. There are over 500 linemen from out-of-state power companies staying there. I got stuck in a traffic jam power trucks heading out for the day. It was neat to see as I sat there in line with them, many people driving the other way honked and waved, so grateful for their help.
I want my kids to learn the importance of helping others. I want them to have the desire to serve. So, late last week we headed out for a day on the “brush crew” in a local neighborhood. I wove my car around downed trees and power lines, turning around numerous times when we reached a tree across the road. This part of town was just devastated! The landscape now permanently changed.
I parked the car at the beginning of the neighborhood and we all got out and walked to the house where we would be working. The street was filled with dirt and tree limbs. The sound of chainsaws filled the chilly air. A large crane was in the process of removing a massive pine that had tipped onto another tree. We made our way up to a house that had eight massive trees fall on it during the storm. The roof was destroyed and the yard was a tangle of trees. Our job was to haul branches and tree limbs to the street so they could be removed by town dump trucks.
I pulled out the work gloves and a fight ensued over who would get what gloves. Once everyone had their desired color of gloves, we all got to work. The kids did a great job. It was tiring, moving one branch after another. They were heavy and sticky with sap. There was some whining and flopping dramatically to the ground from “exhaustion”, but overall they worked hard. My four-year old eventually went to go play with the kids who lived in the house. She had fun playing with them.
We ended up going to one other house that day as well to help with more trees. It was a long day, but good. The kids saw how lucky we were with our house and were proud of the work that they did. Yes there was complaining and whining and drama and lots of “I’m hungry”s. But, that evening when I put my oldest daughter to bed she told me that helping others that day had made her happy. I smiled and nodded; it was exactly what I had hoped they would learn!