Out of town folks visiting our community lately have been astonished at the amount of damage and the cleanup required. Our city, county and state governments have started clearing debris off the right of ways, and frankly, it’s a mess. State highway crews have set up temporary dumping sites near each work area because there is so much to pick up in all parts of the community. One big site simply won’t work because their trucks fill up quickly on each block. This site has been used for only a couple of days and serves just one small section of the county.
The rural countryside looks like this.Every home on every street has a brush pile. This one is about the average size, but many homes have piles much larger...or multiple piles.Keep in mind; this doesn’t include the stuff that’s already been hauled off by commercial tree trimmers. There’s really no need to ask folks what they’re doing each weekend. You can just assume that everyone is working in his yard, because it takes days to clean up your property.
The trees are a mess. I don’t think there’s a tree in this county that wasn’t touched by Mother Nature’s temper. This is pretty typical. And everywhere you look are “hangers”, big limbs that are just waiting to drop on your head or your car when a big wind finally wrenches them loose. They are dangling dangerously over some main roads, and it’s just a matter of time before they hurt someone.
Most of our city parks remain closed because you can’t navigate them. This was taken on the edge of our largest city park. It’s a disaster in there. The picnic shelters are either damaged or surrounded by limbs. I can’t imagine how long it’s going to take to make them pretty again.
Cemeteries are a problem too. I pity the folks who have had a death in the family in recent weeks. First, the funeral homes couldn’t hold funerals because they didn’t have electricity. Some cremations were done by generator. For a while, the ground was too frozen to bury people, and family members couldn’t grieve in peace in their own homes without the power to take a warm shower or wash clothes. Some cemeteries are still struggling to get the trees and limbs cleaned up, so holding a funeral is questionable, depending on where your family plot is. What a mess.
Our community has a beautiful dogwood trail each spring that has already been canceled. It will be a struggle to get the town cleaned up in time for a big convention which brings 30,000 visitors to this area each April. Even when all of the debris has been hauled off, I don’t think the landscape around here will look good for a very long time. It’s just too damaged. It’s such a shame. This is a beautiful tree loving town.
On the home front, the Hula-gen’s managed to get their debris cleaned up. The tree trimmers cleaned up our trees, attempted to save my sweet little fringe tree and chopped down the big old pine tree that dropped its branches on the corner of our house. The rose trellis is gone, and I probably won’t replace it. The electrician was very reasonable and did good work. That was a blessing. Others weren’t so lucky. Our freezer is limping along, but it may be on its last leg. The power outage did something to it. I thought we had managed to save its contents, but I discovered Monday night that the stuff on top had thawed. I cleaned it out, but more stuff is thawing now, so everything will have to go into Mama J.’s freezer until we fix ours or give it a decent funeral. We have several hundred dollars worth of beef in there that I don’t want to lose.
I still can’t catch up on my rest. I think my body held up until I finally allowed it to stop, and now I can’t get enough sleep. I tried running a couple of times. That was nothing but a reminder of how tired my body still is. Besides, it’s really too dangerous to run along the tree laden streets and sidewalks. Going out in public feels weird. For four weeks, I saw practically no one except my immediate family and my co-workers. I didn’t see any news and focused only on personal survival and intense work. I can’t really explain why, but it feels very odd to be at the mall or in Wal-Mart now. Like I don’t belong. It’s as if I lost a month of my life that I’ll never get back. Like the world kept moving forward, and I’m stuck in time.
Everybody I see wants to share their personal disaster story with me. I smile and listen, but honestly, I just don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m tired of disaster, and I’m tired of winter. I’m ready for spring and for the local news to carry something, anything, other than follow-up news about the storm. It makes me wonder how the Katrina survivors, many of whom are still displaced, are able to keep from going insane. What a slow process. We’re getting there, but we have so many more miles to go.