Rage, Loss and Recovery
By Michael E.C. GeryBy Michael E.C. Gery
Sept. 1, 2011
I'm going to do a little weeping here. I can't think through this and write it without some sobbing along the way.
Everyone I know in eastern North Carolina and met there this past week has suffered loss of some kind. Many of us suffered great loss. Some of us lost something we will never have again. A force beyond our control — a force greater than many of us have ever seen — right before our eyes carried away forever or destroyed completely something we held dear.
When the storm subsided as it always does, we stood there stunned, emotionally paralyzed in some cases, unable to know what to do next. Then we hugged one another and thanked the Lord we are still here to hug one another. Then we asked our neighbors and friends how it all affected them. Then we looked around and realized it could have been much worse. Then we slowly began going through the wreckage, feeling sorry for ourselves at times, crying at times, then helping each other put back together what had so suddenly been torn apart.
We could not venture out very far — those of us who could venture out at all — without seeing parts of our lives mangled and lifeless and piled on the side of the road like trash, like spilled guts reminding us of the loss. We hoped someone would come along and haul it all away and out of our sight. We saw dogs, fish, birds, snakes, rabbits, raccoons and deer who had been helpless against the rage and then flattened by it. We saw how the power of nature — the supreme power on earth — can unleash a fury that removes entirely where we live and work, how it can uproot, twist and send crashing down anything in its way, mercilessly crushing what we had held and loved for a long time.
Losing forever something precious and important, especially if it was sheltering us and keeping us safe, was the worst part. Losing power was next. On the other end of the storm, our power had been drained and cut off. We were left in the dark to fumble about on our own.
Then Help was on the way, including the Salvation Army, Red Cross, church sanctuaries, doctors and nurses, fire and rescue, law enforcement, the National Guard, insurance agents, FEMA, the Governor, trucks carrying water, ice, food, fuel, generators, tools, equipment, tarps, building supplies, tree and yard services, and the electric cooperative power restoration teams.
My friends and co-workers in the eastern North Carolina electric cooperatives from Brunswick County on up to Warren County and all points east went straight to work doing what they do best: caring for people and carefully restoring their power. Some of us worked day and night, sleeping when we had to if we could, applying the best of skills to negotiate, navigate, communicate, rebuild and restore. We let loose our own frayed nerves at times and calmed those of others. And finally we could take a deep breath, smile again and thank the Lord we can help each other.