A newsletter I get is based out of north Texas, not far from Weatherford. They were on the fringe of the big fires this past week, and missed the tornadoes (but not by much). The owner sent out an early update to let folks know that he and his were OK, and to provide access to a FaceBook page set up to coordinate help for the region.
It was heartening to see the responses. Lost pets and where located. Someone with a livestock trailer who would relocate horses and cattle from the affected area to some places that are taking in stock for now. Offers to help gas-up the truck pulling said livestock trailer if needed. Where to find supplies for emergency fence repairs. How to contact volunteer fire departments and what they need, if anything (water, granola bars, eye-drops, stuff like that). Someone with a big hay donation looking for transport to get it down to Texas. Two places with tee-shirts for sale, all proceeds going to particular Volunteer Fire Departments. Where to make donations in memory of a deputy who was killed. Where to report people welding badly (as in, in the grass, no spotter, no water for fire prevention, not on their own property!). Calls for volunteers and offers of volunteers. A church opening up bunks, showers, and two cabins for people who need them. A local bar having a benefit BBQ and concert. Pet food and supplies free to people who are caring for temporarily-lost pets.
In other words, local and regional people helping each other and not waiting for outside help. It’s the local churches and businesses, not FEMA or the state, taking care of immediate needs. Because that’s still what you do, at least in this part of the world. I suspect a lot of people know people who know those hit by the fires or tornadoes, so it’s a large-small community. And there’s a strong sense of “there but for the Grace and a mile go I.” We help, because we’ve been helped, or might need help. And it’s the right thing to do, if you are on the scene and have the needed expertise or resources.
Now, a week or so later, the next “ring” of people have gotten moving. Baptist groups and others have collected lumber, tools, and expertise, and are moving toward the area to help rebuild, repair, and restore. I suspect the Mennonite Disaster Relief also has teams getting ready to come in from Kansas, the Dakotas, and elsewhere. Just like will happen, is happening, in Louisiana. No one’s waiting for “someone in authority” to give instructions or approve projects. They are on the move, ready and willing to do what’s needed to help folks having a rough patch.
Because that’s what people of good will do.
Not surprised in the least, by local people helping out.
In 2003, my parents were burned out in the Paradise Mountain fire, in Northern San Diego County. They lost the house and all the contents, but managed to get out with some small valuables and their pets. (They considered themselves relatively lucky – other families lost family members, businesses and animals, as well as their home.) It was heartening, how people rallied around. My sister took Mom to the local department store in the mall, to buy pajamas, underwear and a change of clothes. The sales manager asked if Mom was one of those burned out – and upon hearing ‘yes’ gave Mom a whopping discount. Another local church came around to the shelter, and handed out gifts of cash – about $75 per family. No application needed, no expectation of repayment – just “Here, use it for incidental expenses, we know you can use it.” Mom was especially touched by that gesture. (Later on, members of her church came and helped sift through the rubble of their house, looking for items that could be salvaged.) Americans volunteer – it’s what we do.
After Harvey, a friend had had 4 feet of water in her house. As soon as the roads were passible, people started showing up. Lots of friends, but a whole bunch of strangers. With tools, gensets, whole 9 yards. Incredible.
After the Joplin tornado people were taking personal days to help. We had teenagers organize weekend work parties. Organizations and individuals stopped what they normally do and went to help. After all, Joplin was only an hour’s drive away.
As you wrote, “there but for the Grace and a mile go I.”
It’s flyover country and this is what we do… sigh