I’m Just Saying: Raining hope

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 1, 2018

As with the majority who experienced the wrath of tropical storm Alberto, Paul and I stepped gingerly outside, like laboratory beagles testing uncaged freedom for the first time in their lives, blinking at the sun, surveying our surroundings.

We’re not near a creek or in danger of a landslide, but one heavy, water-logged limb from a massive oak came down and took out a section of the pasture fence. A neighbor had four trees down, luckily missing her cabin.

After 10 days of streaming grey skies, I found myself actually squinting at that watery, glowing orb, anemic as it was, blinking in and out as it was submerged yet again by layers of cloud and rain, like some sort of solar turducken.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

And that farmer’s tan I thought I had? Turns out it was rust. Seriously, I’m too nervous to sit anywhere, lest I leave a ring. Two weeks of riding lessons at the farm have been canceled, as horses refuse to wear water wings and fields are as sodden as rice paddies.

But I’m ashamed to complain when others have lost everything — including their very lives. Above Tryon, falling trees and mudslides took the lives of three much loved people. Rivers are swollen and throughout the mountains, 2,000 residents have evacuated.

Just outside Baltimore, Elliot City, less than two years after what was deemed “a thousand-year flood,” has again been devastated. Businesses that doggedly rebuilt after the ruination in 2016 have seen the actual brick and mortar foundations ripped away, and several souls have thrown up their hands and walked away. Who can blame them? 

We needn’t feel helpless. We can indeed assist.

While some may say writing a check is a hollow gesture, organizations like American Red Cross have been in both locations from day one, offering food, shelter and comfort, and they rely on donations to make that possible.

However, both Red Cross and The United Way can only give to humanitarian efforts, and not to business and property owners, so in Maryland, a nonprofit called Elliot City Partnership has been set up to accept donations for businesses, property owners and residents. Their website is HelpElliotCity.com.

And here in my own backyard of the Tryon area, relief efforts are being made by American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org; debris clean up: NC Baptist Men, https://baptistsonmission.org; and home repair: Foothills Housing Partnership, 828-429-3822. Thermal Belt Outreach is providing assistance for low income residents, http://www.tboutreach.org.

In speaking with officials in Henderson County and farther north to McDowell, which received nearly 20 inches of rain and a threatened dam, The Salvation Army has been praised for its efficacy and timely response (https://www.salvationarmycarolinas.org).

It’s been a viscous spring so far, and while meteorologists have informed us that hurricane season is now extended, no one expected a storm before it even began. The times they are a’changing, and the weather all year long is spawning new intensity as it declares itself in its different forms: tornados, blizzards, droughts, heat and rain.

It is the rain that has hammered us this time, and the rain we will survive. Carolinians are a tough lot, devoted to those in need, ready to lend a helping hand. We’ll pull on our rubber boots, roll up our sleeves, fire up the chain saws and get cracking. 

And Alberto — hope the screen door hits you in the butt on your way out.