Weather and the heart's resources

WE got to thinking hard about neighborliness and what it means late last week as the winds howled at gusts up to 70 and 80 miles per hour, the snow piled deeper and deeper, and giant trees tumbled like matchsticks across often impassable roadways.

The storm that roared up the East Coast from the Carolinas through New England left much destruction in its path. Public officials will be determining the full extent of the damage for days and weeks.

But what also warrants recollection is the way entire communities, neighborhoods, work associates, and just plain strangers, rallied together.

One woman that we know took into her home families who had lived for years on the same block but never came to know each other. Many a teen-ager came to the rescue of motorists - pushing and pulling at spinning cars until they were righted on the roadway and enabled to continue forward through the sleet and gale-force winds. There was the policeman who traveled far out of his way to bring home a young boy who had been stranded at the house of a kindly stranger near his public school.

Electrical and road crews, many of them from neighboring states, braved the storm to come into Massachusetts to repair downed power lines and blocked highways. The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and church and charitable groups opened emergency shelters up and down the East Coast.

And there were the examples of people opening their wallets as well to help others.

One suburban Boston bus driver was the richer by $40 or so when passengers chipped in contributions after the driver traversed a circuitous four-hour ride through unfamiliar back roads to get his passengers safely home. And A Winston-Salem, N.C., radio station found itself inundated with donations after a request for blankets for the homeless.

In short, what many of us once again discovered last week is that we all have rich resources of the heart that far outweigh even the heaviest snowdrift.

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