Despite the plethora of complaints that people have been making about how long it is taking for them to get plowed out after this past weekend's storm, there is a positive side that I have been hearing. For every person out there who hates to shovel, complains that they are stuck with their family, complains about anything they can in relation to the storm, there are people who are flipping it around and looking at the bright side. I personally don't understand how people can complain so much about insignificant events. After all, as I have also heard many people say about those that are complaining, we live in New England and if you don't like it, move to Florida where you won't have to deal with these situations. Alas, I digress. I am not spending my whole blog post this morning talking about the complainers, but rather about those that have found the positive in the wake of this storm. I had written a while back about how we seem to have progressively turned more and more inwards; away from community and into our little insular lives we live. The community that we used to have, and can still be found to an extent in any large city, has disappeared as we have moved into the suburbs. Even the community feeling we used to get when people first started populating the suburbs has largely disappeared. Sure, you will find pockets of tight knit communities among neighborhoods, but they are dwindling in number every year. Chalk it up to whatever you want, its happening. Yet, with 3 feet of snow, unplowed streets, and a shared burden by all neighbors (namely shoveling) its seems there has been a brief revival of the community spirit. Neighbors were talking to neighbors again, neighbors were helping neighbors shovel, checking on elderly, actually talking! Its amazing what can happen when people must share in the same hardships at the same time. I'm sure there was some complaining between neighbors about municipalities failed efforts to get streets plowed in a timely manner and the sheer immensity of the blizzard. Yet in the end, it was one event that managed to drag people out of their houses, to interact with each other, and perhaps bring back a little sense of community to areas where it had all but disappeared.
I have heard multiple accounts of neighbors banding together with their snow blowers, sometimes 5 or 6 wide, to carve paths down the center of streets to create access to houses. At times this has been a necessity for elderly living on streets that are impassable. Heaven forbid that an ambulance needed to get down a street that was unplowed, there would be no way for it to make it. There are hundreds of instances where neighbors have helped neighbors shovel out their neighbor's sidewalks and driveways, and then walked down the street and helped other neighbors do the same. People have banded together to take care of a mutual problem and all in all, from the accounts I have heard, people have been getting along in the process. Even better than that, people who have previously never met before have finally met, all over a blizzard that as trapped them on their street and brought them together to of all things, move snow. And then we break it down even farther than that till we get to the family unit. While there are some families out there that couldn't stand being trapped together, I have heard numerous accounts of families who have actually enjoyed the time trapped inside their houses with no where to go. It is amazing to see how many people have turned this potential negative event into a positive one. I myself teamed up with my neighbor to shovel snow and in the midst of it all, got to talking to my neighbor across the street. The only interaction we usually have is a wave of the hand and a smile, rarely words exchanged, yet this snow storm got us into a conversation that lasted for about 15 minutes. It is amazing how people can be brought together.
Then there are the stories that came out of events that happened during the height of the storm. One man's story in particular has stuck with me, a man in a pay loader, trying to keep up with the snow. As he was plowing, he came across an ambulance that was stuck with a patient, trying to get to the hospital. Knowing that the person's life in the ambulance was more important than plowing streets, he hooked up a chain to the ambulance and proceeded to tow it to the hospital. It took him a while trying to navigate streets blocked by abandoned cars, but he got the ambulance there and headed back out. No sooner did he get back to work than a man came running up to him begging for help. This man's father had suffered a heart attack and had no way of getting to the hospital. The man in the pay loader, without a second thought, told him to load up his father in the one man cabin with him and he would get him to the hospital. It took him about 45 minutes, but he got the man there. We don't know the outcome of the last story, but there are numerous stories such as this that have come out after the storm. Even a good friend of mine spent most of the blizzard, out on the road, helping people. All he had was his Jeep Wrangler (same year as mine), and he drove a dozen people home who had gotten their cars stuck, pulled free at least 4 cars that were stuck, escorted an ambulance and a few other things. In times of crisis, even though it was only snow, the best is brought out in a lot of people. There are also some more depressing stories that have come out, but I won't even touch on those as they don't deserve my attention. As much as I don't want to have a "crisis" to bring family, friends, and communities together, if that's what it takes, then maybe we should have more storms like this. Have you ever been in a situation that has brought your community together? What is your community like?