News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 10, 2008

Tribune-Star editorial: Rain down some kindness

Extraordinary weather calls for patience

Since Saturday, when flash flooding became more than the usual National Weather Service warning for much of Indiana and Illinois, we’ve all heard and seen inspirational stories:

Emergency teams and utility crews working 24/7; selfless volunteers sandbagging or pulling total strangers from submerged houses; families who have lost their homes and possessions reminding us through tears of relief that “things can be replaced, but people can’t.”

As Monday’s unwelcome storms made clear, though, we are going to need a fairly large supply of inspiration — and compassion, altruism, benefit of the doubt and patience — to carry us through the coming days. For whatever reasons, it’s the Midwest’s turn in the weather barrel right now, and we are all in it together.

When nature pays no heed to our needs or prayers, there is a tendency among weary and frustrated humans to look for someone to blame.

Who didn’t fund fortification of this levee? Why wasn’t that combined sewer overflow system completed on time? What contractor signed off on this apartment complex design? How come that Realtor didn’t tell us we might live on a flood plain? Why did our neighbor cut down all those trees last year? And what the heck is the federal government doing?

Understandable as such bad feelings may be, we can’t really afford them, at least until the forecast is for several days in a row of sunshine and cloudless skies.

The extreme weather of late-spring 2008 is hurting almost everyone to some degree or another. The fact that it coincides with record-high fuel prices and rising food costs only intensifies the misery and anxiety.

In order not to make matters worse, let’s all try to remember that almost everyone has been affected. Those of us who’ve escaped ruined basements or entire houses need to look around and make a point of trying to help those who weren’t so lucky.

If you can, write a check to the Red Cross or another relief agency. Find out who needs donated clothing and household goods (and where you can take them). Offer rides to neighbors whose cars are disabled. Take in a pet that’s not allowed in emergency housing. Maybe even open up the guest room to save someone a motel bill.

There will be plenty of time for blame and finger pointing when the storms stop. Until then, let’s give one another what nature is withholding — a break.