I’ve watched news footage of helicopters being loaded with what appears to be endless bottles of water and boxes of Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MREs), all witnesses and testament to the truth of the need to prepare for disaster be it caused by nature or man. Although the government – both state and national – have been warning us, as responsible citizens, to prepare for the unknown for several years now, there is something about this very act that makes the talking heads on television want to refer to us in a negative tone as ‘preppers’, ‘end-of-the-worlders’ as some kind of weirdos always expecting – or desiring – the worst. Obedience doesn’t always have its reward in respect – that is until our neighbors are the ones in trouble and we are the ones with the solution to their dismay.
Last weekend, the eastern coastline was hit by a hurricane – Irene – which evolved into a tropical storm as it moved from the coast onto land and up through New England leaving a path of death and destruction in its wake. While those states that received the highest and most drastic warnings received far less damage than expected, the northern New England states were severely damaged, Vermont being one of the hardest hit.
Nearly every town in Vermont is built near a river or has a river running through it. Those pristine streams became deadly, roaring monsters as the steady rainfall exceeding eight inches in a few hours caused them to pour out of the banks onto and through the surrounding areas. The lovely little towns were flooded not only with water but with mud, debris and bodies. Bridges and highways were washed out leaving several of the communities completely cut off from the rest of the world, devoid of fresh water and supply trucks bringing food into the local stores.
In some of the more isolated locations, families were actually cut off from their communities, with some having members who were ill and in need of ongoing treatment such as dialysis. Those people had to be transported out of their homes to places where they could receive the medical attention necessary and the only conceivable way to do that was by helicopter.
In every incidence of rescue from the air, it has been the Air National Guard that stood ready and brought the much needed relief to the stranded, the ill, and even those towns that needed to have their supplies re-stocked. It has been common for us, as a country, to see the National Guard shipped off to far shores – to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other foreign places – leaving behind their own family and loved ones to wait and worry. It must be a comfort – of some degree – to those who have been called up, to know that there are still some left behind to care for the home front, to provide help and assistance to those who need it.
I don’t think we can ever say ‘thank you’ enough to these brave warriors, members of our communities, who’ve given so much for our country. They truly are heros, whether they are the soldiers in the skies or soldiers on foot. For them, their families and our own, perhaps it is time to pay heed to the warnings of our state and national governments and make preparations for the unexpected, while we can. Surely the disasters in Vermont are an indication that we are not all crazy, but responsible.