By the time you read this, spring will have officially sprung! What a strange winter it was! The one real snowstorm, which hit the area hard in late October (before winter was even upon us!) took out power in parts of New England for up to a week! That followed a late-season hurricane, which took down trees and power lines along the coast. But since then? Well, not much to write home about in terms of snow or ice. And this after a last winter’s record accumulations.
The weather has been odd, to say the least. The robins, those red-breasted harbingers of spring showed up in late December. Today, on the last formal day of winter, it was 75 degrees. It’s hard to bring myself to even imagine what next winter might be like for us. The weather patterns seem to have grown increasingly unpredictable, and that, in turn, makes it difficult to prepare.
What we do know, however, is that in the last few years, people in and around Harvard have experienced a number of weather-related events that have left many without electricity, heat, and often water for days at a time. Some have experienced a sense of isolation. Some have had to contend with trees and limbs fallen across driveways and onto houses.
This year, the Board has been considering a report on emergency planning and preparedness that was created by a task force a number of years ago. And one of the recommendations of the report is that we make an effort, as a church community, to prepare ourselves for weather-related emergencies.
Together, the Board and the Caring Network have wondered, “How could we best take care of one another during winter storms and power-outages?”
The vision that we have is not of one or two people doing yeoman’s duty, running through a long-list of people to be called. Nor is it one of an elaborate phone tree that would allow us to reach out to every member of our community. For one thing, as we’ve learned, traditional modes of communication have not been reliable in past storms. Landlines go out. Even cell phones aren’t always reliable and are useless if they cannot be recharged. Email
is often unavailable.
No, the ultimate vision that we have is of neighbors looking after neighbors and of the fabric of our community being strengthened as relationships of caring are deepened in times of shared need.
To help us prepare ourselves for next winter and to move toward that vision, we would like to begin to put together a list of those of you who might self-identify as being – or feeling – particularly vulnerable during a winter storm or power outage. Maybe you live alone and your family is far away. Maybe your spouse travels frequently and you know that you might find yourself at home alone with young children during an emergency.
Whatever your situation, we would like to help facilitate connections with others from our church community to help us all to weather next year’s storms.
We are also looking for those of you who might have assets – a chain saw, a generator, a heat source – that you might be willing to make available in some way to others in the community who are in need.
And finally, we’re looking for anyone who might be willing to help us set up a system of community care in the event of such storms and outages.
If you fit into any of these categories or simply wish to share your stories and lessons learned from previous storms, I’d love to have you get in touch with me in the coming months. In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful and blessed spring weather that is upon us!
Rev. Wendy L. Bell