The Best in People – #1LinerWeds

I’ve had this subject kicking around in my drafts folder for years. As we enter the season of political ads, non-stop analysis and social media spew that seems designed to pit everyone against everyone else, I thought this little story might help. Also, given that the heat index in Connecticut is supposed to be 110°f (43°c) today, I think the setting and the photos will make us feel better.

This story starts on Halloween in 2011. A freak snow storm dropped a foot of heavy wet snow onto trees that had not yet lost most of their leaves. The devastation came quickly. By 7:00 pm, we had lost power. Not just our house, not just our street, the entire town and most of the region. We remained without power for ten days.

It wasn’t as bad as you might imagine, for several reasons:

The company I work for allowed us to work from home, hotels, shelters, etc.

The weather was relatively mild.

My wife kept the house warm and the coffee brewed, by keeping a fire going in the wood stove.

Tunxis Grill has a generator.

Our town setup a ‘charging station’ (complete with WiFi and MREs1) in a large room in Town Hall.

Each day, I worked as long as I could, i.e. until almost every battery was dead. Then, I would pack up our devices, their respective chargers and a power strip and head to the charging station. I would work there about another 2-3 hours, then move to Tunxis Grill where I would pick up some take-out for the keeper of the flame. I might have had a beer while I waited.

The people at the charging station were very nice to each other. Sharing outlets, sharing stories, offering help where possible. On Day-4, several of us were discussing the storm, the utility’s inability to repair the cables crossing the river (the ones feeding our substation) and the Town’s effort to clean up the tons of broken branches, when a woman interrupted”

“Excuse me, my son has to have a breathing treatment, but it draws a lot of power. I’m sorry to ask, but can you guys unplug for about 15 minutes? Yesterday, we tripped a breaker.”

We all stopped talking. We unplugged our devices, assured and reassured her that she could have the power for as long as she needed it. We asked if she needed anything else. One guy, who was charging a battery backup device, offered to let her take it home if it would help.

When she placed the mask on her son’s face, nothing else in that room mattered. We talked to her and her son until the treatment was finished.


This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner, I’d encourage you to join in on the fun. You can follow this link to participate and to see the one-liners from the other participants.

If you’re wondering why there are no dog pictures, Maddie hadn’t been born yet, and Molley was a little too old to romp in this stuff.

(1) Meals Ready to Eat – Provided by The Army National Guard.

92 thoughts on “The Best in People – #1LinerWeds

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  1. Thank God for the love of good people. Folks seem to really pull together in times of crisis. It was the same during Gustav for my family in BR. Just looking at that snow makes me cold. Hard to imagine it in such extreme heat isn’t it?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I just wish we could remember how to care for and about others all the time, Cheryl. It’s amazing how good people can be, and how fast that changes things.

      I’ll be reminding myself that I’m building this roof to withstand that kind of snow. It’s gonns be hot today.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, that was a crazy snow storm, but one that seemed to bring out the best in your group at the charging station. Kudos to you and the rest for being the kind-hearted souls that you are. In that situation, I could see people getting crabby and selfish, but you all rose to the occasion of helping someone in need. Awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It felt so good to see that, and to be a part of it. Here we were, charging phones and laptops, and here’s this small boy who can’t breath. Life has a way of establishing perspective.

      That snow storm caused so much damage. The utility CEO eventually lost his job. We didn’t get much help from outside the region because 1) they hadn’t made reciprocal arrangement, and 2) they hadn’t paid through bills from the previous storms. The out of state crews when to Massachusetts.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Heart-warming story, Dan. I just got finished reading the Washington Post, which I have delivered each day, and it kind of left me discouraged by the divisiveness that seems to permeate politics these days. It’s reassuring to have your reminder that people can cooperate and help each other and go beyond thinking of their own needs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Same weather here today, and I remember that storm first hand. A good community story is always welcome. I think the vast majority of all of us are all just nice and caring folks, but all we ever hear about about are those few that aren’t. Thank you for the reminder. Hope you hit your goal today before it gets too hot. I worked in a public garden yesterday in the heat. I started at 6:45 and was back home by 9. Happy Wednesday. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. I think you’re right, but the meanness gets the attention. I have a specific goal for each day, today through Friday. I’m working today on a section of my workshop that is under a tree. I hope that helps keep me cool.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. People are at their best (or worst) in a crisis. The American people have a reputation for being at the front of the line to help in a crisis. We had a similar storm in 1998. People had to leave their homes. Good memories and bad. My brother and his family managed with a wood stove.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. I’m working on my workshop roof. I extended it (more shingles) in order to handle heavy snow better. I’ll keep these pictures in mind as I am sweating up there today.

      Like

  6. Kitties do love a nice fire. Dan this is such a heartwarming story. I wish I could see any of the people I work with doing similar. But I know if they did, they would be resentful at best… It’s nice to know there’s compassion freely given somewhere in the world. Have a wonderful Wednesday. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Teagan. I like to think that most people would “sacrifice” for a child’s health. Especially when the sacrifice is so minimal. But, after four days without power and no sign of utility trucks, frustration ruled the day. So it was good to see us all put that aside.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That was one nasty storm. Very often in situations like that people become very “Me, Myself and I”. But you and your group rose to the challenge, and did it gladly. The work would still have been there. That little boy might not have been.

    MiMi and MuMu clearly know how to adapt in a crisis!!

    Heat index here 103, so not as bad as your area. Glad you will have a bit of shade, but it will still be brutal working outside. I’m sure The Editor will keep you supplied with plenty of fluids. Be careful.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. Nobody grumbled. I think it was pretty easy to see our relative situations in perspective.

      The cats probably remember that storm as the best 10 days ever!

      I’m almost done for the day. I’m at the point of work 15-20 minutes and rest for 10. Drinking everything that good woman gives me, even the stuff I know is laced with coconut water. I’ll be done before 3:00 today.

      Like

  8. The ending to your story about that boy’s breathing treatment made the whole telling of it significant.

    I like the beauty of those warm snows covering the trees. They are my best time of winter. I’m sure the trees have a different opinion of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were all pretty frustrated, Frank but that mom really got our attention and helped put it all in perspective. Nobody is going to look back and say “I wish I could have worked a few more hours.”

      That snow was pretty, but the destruction was widespread and it took years to trim the trees to a safe size.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. One of the many things I admire about you, Dan, is your habit of doing the right things!

    Generally speaking, I’ve found that people do tend to be there for one another in times of emergency when left to their own devices (no pun intended). It’s only too bad we can’t do it all ourselves — if we could, the outcomes in New Orleans, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere would have been very different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Steve. You are right about people. I’ve seen them band together many times. Sometimes, though, we need more help. I remember during the aftermath of that storm, several houses were completely cut off by downed trees. CL&P said “don’t move the branches if there are wires, but for three days, they didn’t show up to help. The volunteer firemen just moved them. CL&P was upset, but the town stood behind the firemen.

      Like

  10. I remember this storm, Dan. Isn’t it amazing in a crisis how people come together? How I wish people would be like that all the time! The story of the woman and her son really touched my heart. Human kindness and compassion are not dead, as your story just told. Have a great day today! 😎 PS Stay cool. It’s HOT here too!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, what a storm, and mess, and inconvenience it made of your lives.

    It is very heartwarming and uplifting to know that in the worst of times people can and do come together to help each other out.

    Stay cool and hydrated! Wish I could send some cool weather your way, we’ve cooled down so much it’s down right chilly and we’re wearing jackets in the mornings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. Wearing a jacket seems like a dream at this point. Wearing long pants seems like a dream. I’d settle for ending the day in the same clothes I started in 😏

      That storm did some massive amounts of damage. A couple degrees warmer and it would have been just a rained-out Halloween.

      The fact that no one grumbled, and people were offering extra help to that mom, really made me feel good.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. It was quite a storm. The difference a couple of degrees make. In general, I think people were pretty good. There was some reports of trouble at gas stations, but I just remember having to be patient.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Them’s good people. Y’all did the right thing. I think I needed to read about people doing the right thing today, so that was a great share.
    I complained about days earlier this week, but your weather made me shut my mouth right quick. Phew! I miss the snow. Do ya miss the snow yet?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. I have been dealing with some selfish people lately. I needed to remember this story. I’m ready for fall. For cool days tat require a jacket. I’ll be ready for snow once I get this project done.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Good post. I believe happiness brings us altogether, but tough times reflects our true character. Mumbai city has gone through so many rough phases and I’ve seen people coming together and going all the way to help and support each other. Community riots, floods, bomb blasts and even political issues it is the people that have managed to beat the odds. Probably, that’s why I love Mumbai more than any other city in India. Also, it’s my birth place, and of my parents, and of my grand parents as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh my! I remember that storm (from afar.) My parents lost two cars to a downed tree. They were without power in Avon for about a week but thankfully had a generator to keep the essentials going. It looks like you also made the best of a bad situation with a little help from your wife, the Tunxis Grill, and your fabulous town. Great pics, by the way.

    Yuck about the 110°f (43°c) heat index. I don’t remember it ever getting that hot in CT, especially at the end of August.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. Everybody in a wide region suffered in that storm. Too bad about your parents’ cars.

      We had a long heat wave in July and early August. I thought those days were behind us. Two days this week in the 90s and two predicted for next week. I’m ready for fall.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Dan – I’ve no idea how my parents managed in 1962/3 with three young kids and we and the country were effectively snowed in for 10 weeks … no idea – but that was post war … and people were hardier, more able to manage and devise life … it must have been awful for them. Though totally understand today – most of us are worse off … as we just don’t know how to cope. Great post – could have been for #WATWBlogfest month end post … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Hilary. I think people back then were better prepared to get by without a lot of outside assistance. I remember my mom shopping for food once a week, but I think she could go longer if necessary.

      I thought about using this for 3watwb, but there’s no article other than some old stories about the storm. Most of those are negative because the utility was so bad in their response.

      Like

      1. Hi Dan – then it was the positive way you wrote about it … how we all survived and helped as best possible … even if the Services/Utilities didn’t quite match up … it’s the rest of us managing … but do understand the quandary … cheers Hilary

        Like

  16. What’s that? My eyes are leaking. Absolutely heartwarming! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. People are good! Most often humankind is at its best when the going gets tough. I count myself fortunate to have witnessed examples first hand. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow, Dan. Ten days! And through it all most people worried about freezers full of food and recharging devices. How much scarier it is for those who rely on power for something basic – like breathing. 😳 A powerful wakeup call for all of you who were there and a reminder of how much worse life can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Perfect timing for a positive post….just before we left the desert we had the power go out for about three hours….only concern…110 degrees outside and without AC, not a pretty picture….can’t imagine 10 days.

    Your story moved me…at the heart of it, people do care and want to help each other out…great reminder!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a nice to be reminded that people are good. I was impressed, not one person even moved to a different area. Nobody wanted to make that mom feel bad.

      We were lucky, Kirt. The snow storm came when it was about 30° and it warmed up a little after that. Keeping the house warm with a wood stove wasn’t too hard (although we did burn through a lot of firewood). We lost the food in the fridge, but not much you can do about that without a generator. We’ve thought about getting one since then, but we’ve been here 35 years and that was the only power failure that lasted more than a few hours.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. We do. I would not want to have to have a generator that could provide enough power for AC. Heating this house requires one 20 amp 110v circuit. Cooling it requires (2) 220 circuits, one 30 amp and one 20 amp!

          Liked by 1 person

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