Reader T. writes:
Hurricane relief at the human level
Hobie, Hope you can put this under its own block, I’m sorry I couldn’t think of another way to get this to you.
I woke Monday morning as 1a.m. to the sound of my phone ringing. A good friend called to ask if I was okay. Since my daughter lives a few miles from me, I could only think “God what has happened and how do I get there?” The wind was gusting between 70 and 100+ miles per hour then. Instead this “friend” asks “Am I alright and have I lost anything?” I looked around quickly with one of the best 5 inch flashlights ever, and said, Yeah, the back fence, a bunch of tree limbs, and a good night’s sleep.”
In response to his useless call, I spent the next half hour texting him every 2 minutes or so. His kids live blocks away and I felt he needed to be awake in case they called for his help too.
Fast forward to 9:30 a.m. I drowsily wake to the sound of a backpack blower droning up, down, up,down endlessly. Irritated I look out my window to find my cross street neighbor and his 18 y.o. son blowing a 4 inch thick carpet of tiny broken branches and leaves from my yard and drive, and mowing my lawn unbidden by me. I pulled on clothes and went out. I asked him tongue in cheek what he thought he was doing. He just smiled his crooked smile and said, “Being a good neighbor” and went back to work. I’m 66 and arthriticaly challenged. He’s like that.
Later in the day he came back and asked if I had any gasoline he could borrow. He had gotten about 15 gallons before the pumps ran out here in central Florida at ground zero. I said, I hear your generator running, whats up? He told me he has two generators but found out a single elderly lady down our street had lost power too. She requires critical medication that requires refrigeration so he took his “spare” generator down to her house and set it up and now was running real low on fuel. I told him I had about 15 gallons in my shed and he said great and could he buy some.
I crossed my arms and said NO! He stood there for just a second a little thunder struck. I reached for my keys and said you can have as much as you need …. all of it if needed for her.
See, I never lost power. We live across the street from each other and we never lost power. I offered to run a seriously heavy duty power cord to his house, but he declined, saying “We’re getting along just fine for now. Maybe later” I sent 5 gallons with him and he headed down the block to the ladies house with it.
We’ve been neighbors for 23 years. I look out for him, he looks out for me. He checks on my house when I’m gone, ditto for him. I counsel his two kids when they can’t hear Mom and Dad. Both are growing up fine young people. I bring a wrench or hammer when his wife yells for help and he’s out of town. His boy comes over and shares with me any and all of his accomplishments. I pay attention and praise him, tell him to his face just how proud of him I am. I was there to keep him safe and help guide him back to reality after a bad “trip”. Guided him to get the help he needed from professionals.
Tony and I share a beer, his or mine, when the wind dies down and the dust settles. We look at each other, laugh, and say, “Well what’s coming next?” He’s a great guy, a good neighbor, and as common as fast food. As he is fond of say, “Lifes good”.
That’s REAL hurricane relief.