A Hurricane Taught My Neighborhood How Not To Waste A Good Crisis By J.C. Bourque for The Federalist
Ingenuity and hard work, with neighbors cooperating for the good of all, provided a chance to bond with others and witness the best of people on glorious display.
It’s August 24, 1992. My family and I are huddled in the bathtub in the middle of the night, watching the bathroom door racking in its frame as the whole house twists and bends in response to the 165 m.p.h. winds outside.
Our neighborhood is getting the worst Hurricane Andrew can throw at us. We are in the north eye wall of the storm, where the winds are strongest and we get no relief since the eye is south of us. It is estimated that the storm propagated hundreds of tornadoes at twice the power of the hurricane.
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The next morning we and our neighbors on the cul-de-sac crept out to inspect the damage. It was horrific. Trees were toppled, vehicles smashed, power lines down, roofs trashed or missing, and debris was everywhere.
It is impossible to describe the feeling of standing in a nearly unrecognizable scene that just yesterday was your home and neighborhood, so I won’t attempt it. But I can tell you what happened next: we became a neighborhood in a true sense.
We’d lived there for years, but after the storm met for the first time our neighbors directly across the street and several more in both directions. A group formed in the middle of the street as we compared damages and resources. Does anyone have a working phone? Gas stove? Generator? Chainsaw? It didn’t help to have a working vehicle because of the downed trees and utility poles, and a sea of debris.
Once we determined our resources, we got to work. The first priority was to fix leaking roofs. I had a huge roll of hot-pink polyethylene sheeting left over from a project (don’t ask). Another plentiful material was fencing planks. Since we were a “covenant community,” everyone had a fence using the same type of planks. So they were everywhere, except on fences.