Today’s ice storm knocked out electricity in my house, in our whole neighborhood. Most of the county (a friend texted us) had no power and it could take days to get it back.
We huddled in the house all day, our indoor temperature falling from 61 to 57, with a cold night in store.
No traffic, no pedestrians; I went out only to cut up the big downed branches that missed the car by a couple of feet. Everyone was in the same boat, of course.
By supper time we had had enough. How could we get a warm drink? Sit in a warm place for a while? We set off in the car. The deli was open. Amazing! We bought coffee and tea to store in a thermos for tomorrow morning.
Someone had said a restaurant might be open uptown. Emergency generator, probably, like the deli. As we drew near, we couldn’t believe it: house lights were on, street lights too, and stores were open. Warm food at last! We had never imagined it, wrapped up in extra layers of clothes back in our powerless house. Now if only we could find a way to take a shower….
What struck me in retrospect: why did I assume that everyone was as badly off as we were?
Today’s Inquirer, which we picked up at the deli (a clue that life went on as usual) had an article “Counting Chesco’s homeless” (different title online).
I got to thinking: is losing electricity a metaphor for the feeling of powerless that the homeless must have, and their surprise to see that normal life continues for people with warm houses, food in the fridge, and waiting showers?
This evening a call went out to residents on Mayor Comitta’s list: West Chester University is giving space tonight to anyone who need shelter, food, and a shower–up to a thousand people! Now that is American generosity and caring at its best.
This country would be even more caring if it could find its way to an economy, a health care system, and a social service network that left no one jobless, homeless, and powerless.