Love Thy Neighbor

A Composite of the Derecho Storm from June 29

As everyone knows by now, a nasty storm called a derecho moved across the eastern half of the country on June 29. The result was a few million people without power, as well as a handful of deaths – which, considering it moved across nine states is a blessing.

We were one of those families without power. And, for us, this also means that we were without electricity to run the pump on our well, which meant no running water, either.

And yet, we were blessed.

The trees used to reach towards our home.

Up the street from us, just a few houses away, a tree with a diameter of close to 2′ crashed down (away from the family’s home!) onto some power lines. When it fell across the lines, it also snapped the top of the telephone pole clean off.  (Oh, and crushed the family’s Jeep Grand Cherokee.) But their house got away without damage to it, as did another few neighbor’s homes that had near-misses with the large trees and branches that surround our neighborhood.  Our neighbors directly next door had a tree fall onto their carport without causes much damage, and they were even able to get out of the carport to buy dry ice for their freezer full of Angus steaks.

The tops of the tree were sheared off

We had a tree whose three large branches (which could have been mistaken for three slender trunks) all leaned over towards our home, practically touching the roof. The tree was sheared off about 20′ from the top, and the treetops blew away from our home and into the bramble at the base of the tree itself. In another spot of the neighbor’s wooded lot, there were three tulip poplars growing together, the two largest about 12″ in diameter and about 70′ tall. One blew down from the base of the tree – away from our yard and the pool that was within striking distance.

There were electrical wires sagging across our yard, but they were high enough for us to drive my minivan in and out of the driveway. Even where the wires actually came down in the neighbor’s yard, it was away from their driveway and house, and so they were also able to drive in and out if necessary.

A few people in our neighborhood acquired generators (including the elderly neighbors with the tree on the carport and the Angus steaks in their freezer!), and some people were able to run their entire home off the generator (saving the food in their fridge and freezers). Others managed to purchase ice, but when the hours turned to days, and the days turned into a week, many people lost the food they were unable to keep cold or cook and eat.

Base of the Poplar that fell

But our blessings piled up higher than we deserved in all this.

We have dear friends who had just come back from a family vacation and who did not lose power in the storms. (There’s a LOT to be said for burying utility lines, people!) They emailed (have I mentioned I’m grateful for having an iPhone yet?) and offered use of their fridges and freezers, which were still mostly empty from vacation. They also offered a place to live until the power came back, which was a God-send! Let me tell you, I grew up without central air conditioning, and I probably could have dealt with that and the lack of electricity, but the lack of running water was a definite drag! To flush the toilets when necessary, my poor husband had to run out to the pool and bring in a couple buckets of water to put into the tank. And WOE to the child who didn’t use a downstairs bathroom!

So we packed up a few things and went to live with our friends. Then we packed a few more things and stayed with them nearly a week.

My younger daughter points to the lowest branches of the poplar that stood next to the one that fell. Behind her is the pool and surrounding deck.

Of all the blessings, I think staying with our dear friends was one of the biggest. Without them, we would have lost all the food in our freezer and most of the food in the fridge, for I had just fully stocked our 29 cubic foot refrigerator to the brim. Without them, we would have been running back and forth to the pool to flush the toilet, and God only knows how we would have showered. We considered trying to get a hotel room or a week at a timeshare last minute, but our chances of getting anything just a few days before Independence Day seemed slim.

Instead, we were welcomed with open arms, at a moment’s notice, and on their anniversary (which they didn’t even mention until nearly the end of the week)!

What a blessing that was!

What I think I might love the most is the example my children had of love of neighbor. I fear I am too often selfish and don’t give good example of this virtue, but here was a perfect example of it, and we were the beneficiaries.

You can see how tall the poplar was – the sky you see here was not visible when it was still standing.

I don’t know if I can ever thank them enough for helping us when we were so desperate and for opening their home and their hearts to us.

God is good to us, and His goodness and mercy are abundant!

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