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A Community Effort by Daniel B. Rundquist

SPECIAL TO THE CALDWELL JOURNAL (October 28, 2017)…By the evening hours of Monday October 23rd, more than 30,000 of us were suddenly without power, dealing with downed trees, wrecked homes and property as a result of the EF-2 tornado that ripped through our community. Hundreds of homes in Caldwell and Catawba Counties alone were damaged as well as several completely destroyed. It was a dramatic replay of the storm we saw tear through the Hudson community just a few weeks ago.

The power was out at work so I headed home about 4pm only to discover like so many others, there was “no way to get there from here.” Trees, debris, and power lines were scattered everywhere. It was almost like scene out of a film. Anywhere you looked there was destruction. So, I walked and the closer I got to home, the more worried I became as the neighborhood I have known for nearly twenty years suddenly looked like an abandoned war zone. The evidence of a powerful storm had clearly left its mark.

In spite of all this trauma and drama, some good things happened. No one perished during the tornadoes. Over the course of the following five or more days we saw what we had hoped to see—willing help arriving from everywhere. This is a teachable moment because it was not “big government” that provided support or solutions, it was our own community working quickly and together to solve our own problems and tend to the immediate needs of our citizens. President Jefferson noted, “I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple. Were we directed from Washington when to sow, when to reap, we should soon want bread” i.

Had we all waited on FEMA or some other government agency to step in here, we would all still be in the dark and walking to work.

I think the best test of any community is how it handles a crisis, and we are seeing now how fortunate we are to live where we do. It’s not the neighborhoods, the streets, the homes, or all the other buildings that make our community what it is but rather it is because we live among neighbors who care about each other and can depend on each other to help. November is the month of Thanksgiving, and I am starting my Thanksgiving early this year because we have much now to be thankful for:

I am thankful for the first responders; for fire department crews, and those members of law enforcement first on the scene to help clear roads and get things moving. Our law enforcement officers who secured dark neighborhoods around the clock for days following the storm; they went door-to-door on foot to check every residence making sure all folks were safe and accounted for.

I am thankful for the folks who worked at the temporary shelter to offer aid and comfort to others, without regard to their own.

I am thankful for so many crews of skilled linemen who, with great personal risk worked long hours around the storm damaged areas to restore power as quickly as possible.

I am thankful for the county health officials who helped to quickly assess damaged homes to keep folks safe.

I am thankful for the guys with chainsaws. Both for hire and volunteers like the NC Baptist Men’s Association who continue the long process now of cutting and clearing roads and home sites.

I am thankful for churches and their “prayer warriors” who appeal to the Lord for our safety, hope, and strength while hard and dangerous work is being done and homes are restored.

And I would be remiss if I did not thank the Caldwell Journal for keeping the community informed with local news throughout these events.

Someone outside our community might read this and think the actions of so many of these are exceptional. Well yes and no. Yes, they are exceptional people, but no, their work is not the exception because this is what they normally do each and every day. They are committed, neighbor helping neighbor. No one told them to, no one asked them to—we all simply do what must be done. Thank you all.

i Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821. ME 1:122