Communities and Disasters

       Each year there are thousands of storms in the US. Each part of the country has its share. I live south of Boston Ma. Here we have Nor’easters, hurricanes, wind and severe rain storms. Each year we have several damaging storms, here it is mostly nor’easters. The storms usually last three days. Streets become dangerous to drive and many rural areas lose their electricity. It is difficult to live without electricity. Not only will your food in the refrigerator go bad, but most heating systems will not work. For the elderly, and handicap it becomes a life threatening situation.

Our town as in most in Massachusetts open up their local armories. There the elderly, handicap, and most families who need help can seek shelter. Without community help, the local authorities would be unable to handle everything. The volunteer fire department, visiting nurses, community centers, and many neighbors volunteer their services.

For myself, living in the suburbs, I find a four wheel drive and chain saw most useful. Personally I have helped shovel out and push many neighbors who are stuck in the road. I am not alone, several of my neighbors also are helpful. Of all the major storms two really stand out in my mind. First was the blizzard of 1978. More than thirty inches of snow fell in a 24 hour period.

Motorist on route 495 and 95 were stranded. A State of Emergency was declared by Governor Michael Dukakis. Many motorist died of cold. Plows could not get through the large drifts. The Airports were shut down for days. With all the calamity, many contractors did offer their services. One of them was Cumberland Farms. They possessed many front end loaders and Bulldozers. Now they have hundreds of stores up and down the east coast.

The governor did receive Federal help. Heavy equipment was flown up from Fort Benning Ga. The point is that it took several days. Many citizens did offer their help with pickup trucks. On my street alone several neighbors helped clear the limbs off the streets. Many Church groups, private citizens, with the coordination of the fire department delivered food and clothing to many in need. There were many stories of heroism, especially along the seashore. Houses were swept out to sea. In Scituate Ma, hundreds of homes were demolished or floated out to sea. Neighbors took in strangers. Others offered clothing and food to those who lost everything. Government does help, but the time lag would result in countless deaths. It is the generosity of local neighbors and civic groups that react fast. 

Fast Forward to March 2010. Southeastern Massachusetts was hit by countless rain storms. Each storm carried with it 5-8 inches of rain. I do not live in a flood zone. The ground water level rose to levels not seen for five hundred years. Small streams became raging rivers. Homes were flooded out. My home was one of them. Home Depot sold out of sump pumps. It was horrible. Many neighbors who survived, did take in other neighbors. My own home did receive

Considerable damage. I tried dealing with both my insurance company and FEMA. It was very stressful . After many calls and lots of paperwork FEMA offered me $ 682. The damage to my house was over $25,000. The house was unlivable. I just filed for bankruptcy before the storm, and did not know where to turn to.

I walked down to my neighbor who was a talented Union carpenter. He was between jobs.

It was karma for both of us. He offered to do the work and pay him weekly. I tried to pay for supplies but without good credit I could only do so much. He took a chance on me and I on him. He did rebuild my basement. When said and done, the basement was a first class job. Every week I paid him as much as I could. What was weird I had to chase him to give him the checks. After a few months, he realized that I intended to pay him in full. I have since gotten in a better financial health. I have two properties. If I need something done I would only use him.

Each of us can look at the glass, either half full or half empty. There are people who are not so kind. It is during a natural disaster, that the true value of one`s soul is exposed.

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