Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I first noticed the sky change from a that familiar blue we know and love to see on a summer day, to the threatening grey, dark with contrast and rich with electricity, while sitting in the Dam Cafe. Moments before the light rain drops turned to a flash flooding down pour of rain and hail, I made my way back to the car with a friend. The rain beat down so hard it was almost impossible to drive. Combined with these treacherous driving conditions, the streets quickly filled up with rivers and pools of water and ice. Within minutes the rain was washing away the beauty of the summer day and bringing with it a wake of destruction that left homes destroyed, cars inoperable and stuck in flooded out intersections, trees on roofs, and a building that looks like a massive ball bounced its way through, tearing the roof and walls apart. It is a day similar to June 1st, but will less damage. The fears of that day were re-instilled in many as they came out into their communities to witness and take a close look at what had happened. Holyoke, like Chicopee had a real sense of communal bonding as the members of each neighborhood came out to assist one another. "We as a community are helping each other," one man said to to me as I was passing by. "You should get a picture of that," he continued to say. I nodded my head and expressed that I had done so already while he was busy directing cars away from the flooded out underpass. In Chicopee, near my parents house, it was a similar story. Random people passing by, or out with intentions of helping and assisting those afflicted with damage, stopped with their equipment, chain saws and rakes and took liberty in helping people they did not know. If it is one positive thing that we can take from June 1st, it is the re-newed sense of neighbor and community. People unselfishly came to the assistance of people they did not know, asking for nothing more than a chance to help. Occasionally a news crew would pass, take notice of the damage and in their unbiased and less sympathetic view, narrated the story of what happened. More adventurous individuals toted their camera to grab the picture of the fallen tree. Not with intentions of telling the reality of the situation, but more so as a record of what happened. Some people, with no inhibitions, carefully exposed the vulnerability of the home owner by making a photograph of the front of their homes. Walking through my parents neighborhood, groups of people passed by with their cameras, pacing themselves stopping to view which house was worse, and occasionally wandering into backyards to see some of the more private damages that occurred. The power of the camera to record these moments is handed off as the image is uploaded to the computer from the card, shared with friends, family, and even neighbors. It was a sad sight to see the landscape having changed so quickly. It will take some time to rebuild, but brighter days will shine, as less trees are in place to block the sun.