Last week’s Hurricane Sandy brought back my memories of a fierce storm from an earlier generation. Way back in 1979 my family and I were living in the suburbs of Washington, DC. In those days that area rarely got the severe storms they’ve seen in recent years. So the sudden blizzard of 1979 came as a shock, especially since it was just a few weeks before spring was supposed to start.
In our town, 30 miles west of Washington, we got 40 inches of snow, all in one night. The town was paralyzed. Back then the local governments didn’t have much equipment or experience with such monster storms. So our streets did not get plowed for over a week. Nearly everyone was stuck at home. We didn’t have cell phones or internet service in those days.
We were the only family in our neighborhood with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. So after the storm subsided I was able to get out to the local grocery store a couple miles from our house. I had practically a full-time job running errands for the neighbors, including grocery shopping.
Being a suburb of a major city, many of the neighbors had never spoken and were complete strangers to one another. The blizzard of ’79 changed all that.
It’s almost a cliché, but tragedies and disasters often bring people closer together. Strangers become family, and we realize how connected we all are. The relationships of virtually all our neighbors, including my family, were never the same again—because of a blizzard.
I’ve often asked myself why it takes such events to make us aware we truly are all connected.
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