To the point week of 09-18-08

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IT WAS BAD. In fact, it may have been one of the worst ones that anyone had ever seen. Residents said they’ve never seen anything like it before.

Just one question:

What was ‘it’?

Ever since I sat in my dark house on Sunday afternoon and listened as my shingles were ripped off of the west side of my addition, I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what ‘it’ was?

Would you call it a storm? If the wind wouldn’t have been blowing, it was a perfect, sunny fall day. It rained in downtown Vevay for about two minutes late in the afternoon – if you can call a “heavy mist” a rain.

It wasn’t a tornado – we’ve seen those. Although the gusting winds did make an eerie noise, there was no funnel cloud. No warning to take cover.

From what I could tell, what happened to all of us on Sunday was some very strong winds that started just after noon and didn’t stop for a couple of hours until you couldn’t make your way down any street or road because of the trees and power lines.

Although I don’t know what to call ‘it’ – there were many other things that I observed this week that I can identify.

– This county should feel very secure in the knowledge that our Emergency Management group works – and works well.

All of the fire companies came together to help wherever needed. Gary Wentworth and George Adams and their team coordinated all sorts of situations and problems, and got those in need what they needed.

Many times we go through ‘drills’ and ‘scenarios’ and we think we know what to do when an actual emergency happens; but on Sunday and through the rest of this week we have seen that the plans that the committee made actually do work with they have to.

– If needed, the Jefferson-Craig fire company throws a pretty nice get-together.

Being out of power in town, as I walked around taking photos and talking with people I soon found out that the Jeff-Craig firehouse had opened its doors and was serving food to anyone who needed a hot meal (and we needed one), and it also gave people the chance to sit down and rest for a minute before heading back out to the clean up.

I saw people I hadn’t seen in years at the firehouse, and it was nice, in the midst of all of the chaos, to try and forget about what was going on outside those walls for a few minutes and have a sandwich and a cold drink and say hello to some people.

– The businesses in this county really came through.

The Vevay Super Valu had a problem when the power was off for a period of time, because all of the meat and other frozen items that it had in the cases was about to go bad.

What did they do? Throw it away? No, instead they gave the food to the firehouse so that it could be cooked and given to people who needed to eat.

At times like this some people can be pretty selfish and self centered (Note to whomever broke into the SuperValu – it’s always classy to steal when others are in need. You’ll be caught, and you’ll do time), but the folks at the local grocery store willingly handed over hundreds of dollars of food to help others in need.

– George Adams was right.

While interviewing the vice chairman of Switzerland County Emergency Management for the story that appears on the front page of today’s edition, I heard George Adams say that he was seeing an ‘epidemic of brotherly love’ pour out all over this county.

As a member at Spring Branch Baptist Church, George had worked tirelessly before and during Saturday in helping coordinate and pull off the hugely successful benefit for Rick and Laci Daugherty. When I left him at the high school late on Saturday night, he was exhausted, but was amazed at the community’s outpouring of donations that helped make the event a success.

Little did we know on Saturday night that Sunday afternoon was coming.

I’m sure George hadn’t caught up on his sleep when the winds started on Sunday, but he still found himself making decisions and helping people and solving problems.

But he also found himself witnessing first hand another chapter in the giving nature of the community in which he lives.

He saw neighbors helping neighbors. People offering their help wherever it was needed. People coming together because they saw others in need.

In short – he saw Switzerland County in action.

The last week has seen an epidemic of brotherly love here, but as we look around, we see ‘outbreaks’ all the time.

Good work, Switzerland County. Let’s keep a good thing rolling.

*

He won’t like this, but I can’t close this column without wishing my big brother, Michael, a happy 50th birthday.

He was born on September 18th, 1958; and that makes him 50 years old today.

Yep. He’s 50.

Half a century.

Wow.

He’s old.

You learn a lot about a brother when you share a room together for most of your young lives. You lie there in the dark and talk about all of your hopes and dreams. What you think your life will turn out to be; and you make plans based on those hopes and dreams.

Sometimes those dreams don’t turn out exactly as we’d thought when we were in our early teens; but the one thing that hit perfectly for me was that I have always known that I have a big brother who’s “got my back”; and who loves me – even if he doesn’t’ say it.

In January he will call and raze me about turning 47; but I’ll remind him that no matter how old I get, I’ll never be as old as he is. He’ll laugh and tell me that’s because he will always be my BIG brother; and he’ll tell me how bad it was being the oldest and how mom and dad figured out how to be parents on him, so it was easier on me.

He’s probably right on most things (although he will tell you that he’s better looking, so we’ll see); but even though he’s 50 today, he’ll always be my big brother. My protector (no one could hit me but him). My buddy.

So happy birthday, ‘Meathead’. ‘Howie your brother’ wishes you many more.