Community, perseverance and fortitude: just add water

This time a week ago, I had never heard of ‘c.f.s.’, nor did I know what Floodzilla was. I had never heard the Valley catechism of flood years. I certainly had no idea where the highest geographic points in downtown North Bend and Snoqualmie were (or the lowest).

Sure, I knew what a flood plain was. But I had never heard the term ‘flood way’ — much less waded knee deep through one in the cold rain at night.

Now I know.

While destroying and taking away some things, I truly believe disasters and other challenges can also bring out the best in each of us and make us stronger. Natural or accidental tragedies can also draw us together as individuals, families, as a community and as a people.

Last Wednesday, the good citizens of this Valley truly showed me what they were made of.

Filling sandbags in the morning rain, a few others and I were soon joined by folks of all ages: little children and high schoolers, their concerned parents and grandparents. Everyone stopped and lent a helping hand or shovel, or tied and hauled bags or held umbrellas over folks like me with no hat. Soon pop-up tents appeared. The enticing smells of Sahara Pizza wafted over the growing crowd of sandbaggers as free food and coffee were offered to all. Everyone there was just as worried about protecting their own families, homes and businesses, yet it seemed everyone took care of each other first.

As the various EOCs were fired up before ‘Old Man River’ slowly crept over its banks, city officials, public works crews and our local police and fire departments were out in force, proactive and professional. Here in Snoqualmie, Tribal emergency ops crews were lending a hand everywhere, cheerfully evident in their red jackets.

After Valley residents were urged to evacuate, people also took the time to help those who needed it. While the swollen river spread up along Park Street and Falls Avenue and throughout the rest of the Valley, people were still checking on houses next door or lending a hand to displaced neighbors and nearby businesses. After the power went out and all seemed inundated by rain and flowing water (where there used to be streets), people were still sloshing about in hip boots and in small boats, helping others and offering a place to stay to ones with nowhere else to go.

Countless selfless gestures of generosity like these were quietly repeated in ways small and large, throughout Fall City, Carnation, North Bend and Snoqualmie. In the coming weeks, individual, city and county clean-up efforts will be enlarged a thousand-fold up and down the Valley as volunteers and neighbors work to help repair damaged buildings, and as yards, parks and roadsides are cleared of debris and cleaned up.

This last week, over and over again I saw what the good people of this Valley were made of. There are none better.

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