Things are finally getting back to normal; the new normal that is. For 42 years I have called this place my home. There have been more changes in the past two weeks than in the previous 42 years. But we are moving forward and for that we can all be thankful.
The roads are finally clear. It was an epic job to clear the city and county of the thousands of trees that fell across our roadways. We took getting from Point A to Point B for granted. No more.
Power has been restored to most of the Georgia Power customers and we are around 95 percent for Three Notch EMC. That seemed impossible just 12 days ago. There are a lot of heroes around here these days, but the ones held in the highest esteem may be the power company linemen. They worked from “can to can’t” with the lines of trucks heading out at dawn before returning late in the night.
For the most part, people now have water and air conditioning. Never has a cool snap felt more welcome than the past couple of days. No one is complaining about it being too hot or too cold. In fact, no one is complaining about much of anything. Could that possibly be part of our new normal too?
I have been privy to see the organized efforts of so many working to get this county and city back on their feet. I could name a hundred different groups and would still leave out some who have selflessly come to our aid in our time of need. Thousands of people whose name I will never know, but whose efforts I will never forget.
I have long been appreciative of what our local public servants do, but it is not until you really need them that you realize their true value. Only today did our 911 dispatchers return to a normal call load. These servants are at the top of the list of those to thank, along with public safety and public works employees.
As we reflect on the common bond we share because of Hurricane Michael, take just a moment to reach out to some of the most unsung heroes of all, your neighbors and friends. Your church family. Your co-workers. The many that indeed loved their neighbor as themselves.
I have been touched at many levels by this disaster. The sheer size of the area of destruction. The power of Mother Nature at her worst. The force with which our landscape was forever changed. The human suffering that has mostly been endured without complaint.
I have been touched by the endless acts of good that I have witnessed and the many more that I may never know about. We have glimpsed into the mirror of our community and found that for the most part it was more beautiful that we realized. It is full of heart, compassion, generosity and love for our fellow man.
Two weeks ago I was disgusted with the endless negativity of our political discourse. After two weeks without television and little time to listen to the radio, I find that the center of our universe is not Washington, DC, it is right here in our community.
Like most, I am guilty of taking so much for granted. Hot water for a shave and a shower. Hot food three times a day. The light that results from flicking the switch. The cool air from the air conditioner. Ice. Cream for your coffee.
But I also see some things differently and they are not all bad. My view of the sky has drastically been expanded thanks to losing almost every tree in my yard. I now have more spectacular sunrises and sunsets that are clearly visible from my patio.
I realize that I live in a neighborhood now where houses are no longer separated by so many trees. I can now see the lights of many homes from where I sit in my back yard. There is more visiting going on between neighbors. That’s good.
Some things will never be the same, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be better. Our community has climbed back from the abyss, held each other in the darkness, nursed each other’s wounds and fed the hungry that we did not even know.
In the face of unimaginable destruction, our eyes were opened to the goodness of our fellow man. As we rebuild our city, county and in many cases, our lives, remember the miracles that you have seen. Let them be part of our new normal.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org