Friday, March 09, 2012

Knapsack 3-15

Notes From My Knapsack 3-15-12 -- Granville Sentinel

Jeff Gill


Be prepared for . . . many things



You could say we're heading into tornado season if it hadn't already begun, with a vengeance, to our west – and not far west, either.


Indiana, my home state, is one of the great dramatic stages for tornado disaster, but I've had the dubious privilege of seeing funnel clouds there, in Michigan, in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, and Oklahoma (plus a dust devil in New Mexico that sure looked like it wanted to be a tornado when it grew up, but not a cloud in the sky).


Not in Ohio, but that's a personal quirk of history, and not a measure of a blessed thing. Even in the Hoosier State we watched the videotape of the aftermath in Xenia, where the downtown area was, not to stretch a point, obliterated. For many of us, that may be in another century, but it wasn't that long ago.


Buckeye tornadoes are common, large, and can be devastating. You all know the drill each Wednesday at 12:15 pm, and we've gotten used to the drill: "oh, it must be 12:15" gets said in offices and on street corners every week across the state, with a shrug and a going on about one's business.


Schools and newspapers try to help us keep an edge on our awareness, and the disasters in Henryville IN and earlier in Joplin MO & Tuscaloosa AL make many of us check the batteries in the . . . hey, who moved the flashlight? We make some arrangements, consider a few preparations, and then move on.


After all, it probably won't happen here. Right?


Right. So. Someday, it probably will. Or if not a tornado, perhaps an earthquake. My seat for the 2011 East Coast shaker was next to a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, and wedged at the end of a long table in a narrow room filled with people, and all I could do was look up and out and realize "this building is distinctly moving back and forth, repeatedly, and that's not good."


The shaking ended, then we got outside, then we laughed. 30 more seconds of shaking? Uh-huh.


So we talk about preparedness, and there's plenty of folk on TV and in the paper to tell you what to do (or ask your household or neighborhood Girl or Boy Scout, they know how to do a family emergency plan). And there's our response, which many churches and civic groups have dealt with nobly, sending monetary aid and traveling work crews from the Gulf Coast to Greensburg KS. Kudos to all that.


There's one last piece of preparedness, though, that might be overlooked in all this. It fits nicely, if you'll allow me a brief religious note, into the season of Lent, just over half done, heading for Holy Week and Easter.


Are you prepared to accept help? I'm not joking; have you thought about how it will feel, and how you will respond, when you are the one waiting in line for pure drinking water, or getting a fresh change of clothing from a bag? Sitting eating under a vast tent, unsure if your kitchen is even still there (and even in this hypothetical, let's say that it is, but you can't get to it just now).


A common challenge emergency workers face is that the proud, strong, individualistic American spirit all too often means that people just can't ask for, or even receive help. "I've never asked for a thing my whole life," they brusquely snap, and walk away, even when there's nowhere to walk to. Their statement is probably true as far as they understand it, but that's the thing: you've never done this, and it's hard. You'd rather be asked to shovel mud for someone else for a day in the hot sun than ask for assistance.


Someday, God willing, we all will need help. That's part of life, part of the plan, baked into the cake, if you will. Are you mentally, personally prepared, in an emergency, to ask for, and to get some help when it's needed? Think about it. That skill might just save your life. Like most skills, it takes some practice, or at least consideration before the fur starts to fly.


And buy some new batteries, just in case.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he got Emergency Preparedness merit badge as a Scout, but they didn't cover this. Tell him how you feel about help at, or follow Knapsack @Twitter.

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