Come on, Irene!!

Monday, September 05, 2011 0 Comments A + a -

New Clough Principal changes the sign signaling the start of school once again...
Okay, this is not how I imagined the first three days of the 2011-12 school year would go!  To say the least, it was maddening to cancel school due to the damage and loss of power because of Tropical Storm Irene (yes, it lost its Category I hurricane status by time it hit Mendon-Upton).  Never in my life have I logged as many hours speaking to local officials- police, fire, DPW, and our friends at National Grid- to get a handle on the safety conditions in both towns as well as a sense of when power would be restored to Miscoe Hill Middle School.  The more people I spoke to, the stronger sense of the severe damage- particularly in Mendon- I got.

The power loss wore on our nerves.  Living over the border in Rhode Island, I got my power back Tuesday morning at 2 am... and I know I was one of the lucky ones.  Each day when I went to my office (which is attached to Miscoe Hill) I felt frustrated without electricity, Internet, phones, or running water.  Last week was one of those rare, sustained reminders of how we take so many of life's conveniences for granted.  Perhaps adding to the surreal feeling was the fact that every day post-Irene was a gorgeous, sunny day in the 80's.  How could we be having these cancelled days??!!

I know many of our parents felt the stress of the situation as well.  I may be a new superintendent, but I don't think that I will ever receive as many requests from parents asking me to cancel school as I did last week.  They told stories of lack of running water (and hence, no showers, etc.) and just the general stress from the lack of amenities.  For some, it was real tough going...

But as it often is in life, much good can come from bad.  I've heard many stories of families coming together during all of the unexpected "down time," bonding while doing fun and silly things.  I know that I had the opportunity to play Scrabble and Monopoly with both of my daughters for two consecutive nights... that's probably the first time that's happened in years!  I also went to sleep on Sunday and Monday nights after reading in bed by candlelight... the dreamer in me ignored my eyestrain and postulated that this must have how it was in the 1800's and earlier.  I kind of liked that feeling!

However, what makes me feel the best is the way that people come together during a crisis.  A casual glance at one's Facebook feed told the story of families reaching out to others with offers of shelter, food, and showers.  One of our moms in the district wrote me an e-mail describing the challenges of the days after the storm, but then she closed the correspondence with this insight:  " members are reaching out to each other.  Those with power are welcoming those without into their homes for showers, charging phones and such, getting water (many are on wells without power), and just some conversation.  We have a friend's medication in our fridge for her and send them home with ice for their cooler and refreshed after long awaited showers....It may not be the start of the year that people are accustomed to, but I think it just may be the start of the year that we needed.  Something that brings us all together, realizing the important things about community... I hope this stays with us... as we go forward."

I hope the same too!  Here's to September 6 and beyond!