A Sense of Community

13 Sep

On Wednesday, September 7, 2011, the area of PA where I live was deluged with the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.  The timing of the storm couldn’t have been worse because just 10 days earlier, the outer bands of Hurricane Irene gave us 3-6″ of rain.  And from September 3-7 a low pressure system stalled over us giving us about 1-2 inches of rain every day.  So that meant that Lee’s 6-12″ of rain was falling on completely saturated soil.  There was simply no place for the water to go.

My school district is basically divided into 2 halves by the Swatara Creek.  There are some 8 bridges that our buses must cross in order to get the norther tier students home.  On Wednesday, the rain fell at such a rate (4″/hr for over 45 minutes at one point), that all of those bridges closed.  My little town has 7 roads out of town, 5 became closed due to bridge closures.  The Swatara Creek’s flood stage is 7′ and the waters crested on Friday at almost 27′.

My neighborhood is on the Swatara Creek, but most of it is well above the creek others parts of it are not as we all found out.  If you were to come to my development, you would look down the hill at the creek and never fathom that flood waters could reach where they did, yet it happened.  15 or so of my neighbors lost the entire contents of their basements.  1 family also lost their 1st floor.  7 people died in the region, but none from my little town for which we are very grateful.

The point of this blog entry is not to dramatize the flooding, it is to motivate fellow athletic trainers into a sense of community.  You see, the devastation brought many, many gawkers to my neighborhood.  Many just to see what the flooding looked like.  I get that, I took my fair share of pictures and took my kids around to see the devastation because this will only happen once every 30-50 years.

The flooding also brought aggressive business owners (most legit, some maybe not) to offer their services to clean up for a fee.

But best of all, the flooding brought literally hundreds together to volunteer their time to clean up.  On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, several hundred people came to pitch in and help strip wet drywall, haul damaged furniture to the curb, peel back wet carpets and clean up mud.  The sidewalks were piled with mounds of trash.  Each mound of trash represented years of memories and hours of hard work.  It was dirty work, we had dirty hands and our clothes were muddy but we bonded together with a sense of community.

A tough task faced the homeowners.  I spoke to so many who were so overwhelmed by what the community gave them.  The community gave them a sense of “you are not alone, we are here to help”.  The community gave them a good night’s sleep since the work was done.

It is tough to put into a few words what good deeds were done in my area and the only motivation being that another member of the community was hurting and needed help and we could fill that need.  It simply was the very definition of the word community.

Athletic trainers are a community.  Very few people can understand our unique role in the health care profession, especially in the traditional setting.  Collectively through our national community (NATA), state community (PATS for me) and even for some at the local level (CPATA for me), ATs have done a lot of work to improve the community.  We have fought for better pay, better work conditions, better hours, more respect from our piers in healthcare and in athletic departments.  We have come a long way with our sense of community and brotherhood, but we still have a lot of work to do.

Don’t sit idly by and watch others do the work, get involved.  Get your hands dirty and your clothes muddy.  There is so much work to do that you can do something!  Start at the local level where you will have the most effect.  And the best side effect you will have from all the hard work is an increased sense of community!

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