Sunday, February 01, 2009

Ice Storm in Missouri: Federal Disaster causes community to shine

My mom called on Friday to tell me they were okay.

I felt horrible. Though I listen to NPR and follow major news issues pretty closely, somehow I had completely missed that Southern Missouri was one of the major recipients of the ice storm that rocked the midwest...and I hadn't called home in a few days. My parents had been without electricity since Tuesday!

My parents are technically retired. However, my dad is still the Presiding Commissioner of Ozark County. So times like these create a lot of work for him. He just finished dealing with FEMA a few months ago when all of the flooding happened in their area and now FEMA is back, once again, since Ozark County has been classified as a federal disaster area.

My mom explained the down trees, the lack of electricity (and lack of heat), and some of the people with medical conditions who have not gotten the treatment they needed. But what struck me about our last two conversations is what a strong *community* exists in my small town of 632 people.

In the video below, Sonja is letting people use the shower in her beauty shop. The courthouse is allowing people to sleep there to stay warm. Chris and the local bank created an emergency fund for ice storm victims. When I talked to mom today she explained she had to get off the phone because several of them were at the courthouse making phone calls to people in the areas that were hardest hit to make sure people were ok and to see if they needed water or anything.

My brother (who lives in Springfield, which wasn't hit as bad this time) had travelled 70 miles to go back home a town near Gainesville that was hit particularly hard so he and some friends could help clear brush from the backroads so people could get to and from their homes.

Think how strong our neighborhoods would be if we could generate and create this kind of care and concern in each of our own communities.

The pictures (below) can be deceiving. I think it's interesting that the pictures I've seen from friends and family back home, despite the devastating effects, have chosen to focus on the beauty of the moment (with a few exceptions).

Mom and Dad's (normally paved) driveway:

Mom and Dad's carport:

Down electric pole:

Note the thickness of the ice:

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