Irene brings out the best

While it may “take a village” to raise a child, I’ve learned it takes good neighbors to make dealing with hurricane damage much easier.

Driving to the hardware and grocery stores for some last minute supplies on Friday, I was struck by how nasty people were being behind the wheel: cutting other drivers off, laying on the horn.  I told my wife that the hurricane brings out the worst in us.  Worried and frustrated, we channel our emotions into being rude to others. 

But what a difference a few hours makes.

As Hurricane Irene moved in, the loss of electricity Saturday night meant hours of bailing out the sump pump well to keep the basement from flooding.  As the storm continued to dump rain, the bailing effort at our house soon became overwhelming, and we started taking on water.  That’s when I saw that disaster (even on my small scale personal level) can bring out the best.

A text-message plea for help was answered by a neighbor, who just happened to be hosting five teenage boys at his house to watch a UFC fight to celebrate their son’s birthday.  Since they too had lost power, my neighbors and five teenagers volunteered to trek up the street at the height of the storm, and form a bucket brigade to keep the water from rising any higher.  For hours we bailed, pushed water out the door with trash can lids, and really worked together.  We were even loaned a generator for a few hours later in the night which powered the sump pump for a while and gave us all a break.  Without the help, damage would have been much worse.  Thankfully, Delmarva Power finally got the power back on at our house around 2 AM.

Now that the sun is shining and the basement is drying out, I think about the feelings of despair I had during that long, dark night, and the relief I felt when the cavalry arrived.

It’s renewed my faith in the power of a helping hand.

What about you?  Do you have a story of how you got some help during this storm, or maybe the storm did bring out the worst for those around you?  Tell us your story in the comments below.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal