Lessons of the Snowstorm

Street_IMG_9079It may be a cliche, but isn’t it funny how it can take a crisis like the massive snowstorm to bring neighbors together. In Merriman Park–where our house lost power once for two hours, again for 24 hours and a third time for eight more–tree limbs were falling everywhere (photo by SweetCharity). Then Matt, a guy from one street over I hadn’t talked to in a year, arrived on the scene with a chainsaw and started cutting up limbs and piling them on the sidewalks all up and down the street. (Why’d he do it, I asked? “Hero complex,” he said wryly.)

When power on our side of the street flickered back on for awhile, David, from two doors down, ran a power cord into another neighbor’s place that was still dark. Then he started loading everybody’s hacked brush into his pickup, bound for the dump. (I hadn’t talked with him in probably five years.)

We loaned Gene across the street a tall ladder, took in neighbor Gary and Dee’s dog while Dee went to a friend’s house with their baby, brought folks back Cafe Express burgers and fries and opened the (50-degrees and dropping) house to ’em with a fire in the gas fireplace.

Besides the value of community, Texan-style, another big lesson reinforced by this storm: the importance of electricity, how vulnerable we all are without it. (Note to Bin Laden and crew: Forget the tall buildings; just go for the grid.) Most of us don’t even know how the stuff is produced, much less anything about surviving in its absence.

And, while the electronic-dependent flailed in the dark, some special kudos are owed to three “dinosaur” institutions. Despite the war-torn look of our streets, the Dallas Morning News carrier plopped a paper in the drive each morning, right on time. The U.S. mailman delivered every afternoon. And Oncor did an outstanding job restoring juice to tens of thousands of homes under crisis conditions. Those of us who are warm again salute you.