Thursday August 02nd 2007, 11:14 am
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

“Do NOT call into a disaster zone. Email them.”

Yes, dear, I know. We live in California: it’s a given that you’re supposed to have one out-of-state person that everybody knows to call to hear the news. Things happen here. But Minnesota? Who makes plans like that in Minnesota?

My husband’s aunt’s house was a half mile from the epicenter of the ’89 Loma Prieta quake. His grandmother called and woke me up at 4 am, trying to get word on her daughter. I groaned to him, hours later, “Your grandmother got the time zone differences backwards!” I was later told she’d been dialing the phone all night. She kept saying to me, over and over, “I couldn’t get through! I couldn’t get through!”

I’d had nothing I could offer by way of comfort; we hadn’t heard either. Turns out that, although the house was trashed, her daughter and her family were okay. There were even funny stories: like the electric shaver, attached to its cord, that bounced across the bathroom, down the hall, down the stairs, into another bathroom, and the wall landed on the cord. Great. Now, just how do you lift it off it to get it out again? Um…

My husband got his ham license and his Disaster Services Red Cross certification after that. Next time the lines were down, he would be able to help get the word out.

New York. My brother was able to call the folks. My cousin, at work a half block from the Towers, got the word out the next day about seeing the planes hit and walking miles home. Leigh Witchell from the Knitlist and I spent two weeks trying to track down any word on Madlove Gina; turns out she’d just quit her job in the Towers and gotten a new one in Jersey. Hated it. Wanted to go back. When 911 happened, she did go back–as a volunteer, to help, knowing that people she loved were in there. Anything she could do.

There were New York shopkeepers who stayed put as the endless streams of people walked past them out of there, handing out water to strangers in need, over and over. Heroes. They didn’t decide it was too many people for them to be able to make a difference; they made a difference.

Email. Do not overload the local phone lines, let the people who need them most immediately, the ones who are right there, have them. Wait. I waited.

Dave was away on a business trip. Wanda was feeding the kids dinner. I don’t know if that trip had anything to do with it, but they did not cross that bridge a few exits down the highway to go to the Twins game. There is a guilty relief that the people I love are fine, but it doesn’t lessen my compassion for the ones who can’t say that. My heart goes out to Minnesotans.

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