Rain, Rain, Here We Go Again · 9 January 2009

The Pacific Northwest is known for its rain, but just a week into the new year, it has already been ridiculous.

The year 2009 started with lots of precipitation. Both snow and rain. And who knows when it will finally stop. It is not quite time to build a new ark yet but it sure seems like that time is coming.

Last year ended with lots of snow. More than I have ever seen on the west side of the state. There was a big storm in the late eighties or early nineties but nothing compared to December 2008. Nobody could get around and schools were cancelled in many districts giving students three extra days of vacation. We also had two half days due to weather before that.

Coming back from the break, we started 2009 with a half day due to rain, had one full day of school, then had a half day and then no school. And it is only Thursday. By the time this gets published on my website, we will have another day lost due to weather. So the first week back will end up being a whole day with two half days. And lots and lots of rain.

People in other parts of the country probably have no sympathy for us cozy Northwesterners. We tend to get such mild weather all the time that seeing devastation due to hurricanes and tornados and other severe weather seems like looking at a completely different world. Which is probably why having all the devastation due to the rain seems so surreal.

I remember a storm the first or second year I was teaching – twelve or thirteen years ago. Duvall, the city where I teach, became an island because of all the water. Just as it has become again with the latest storm. As much sympathy as I feel for my students and their families, I am glad that I am sitting here in front of my computer at home instead of rowing around the town where I teach.

As much rain as the Northwest has gotten in the past few days, we have seen the best of people during the devastating storm. People have come together to help one another save each other by sand bagging around homes near the water’s edge or paddling people away from their already flooded homes. People have volunteered at shelters and have helped each other in many different ways. That is the beauty behind disasters. People do help each other. As they always do in times of crisis.

Whether this latest deluge is a one-hundred-year, two-hundred-year, or even five-hundred-year flood, I am sure that we will continue to see the good side of people. We will continue to see people rescuing each other from their homes and cars. We will continue to see people filling and placing sandbags around each other’s houses. We will continue to see people helping out total strangers by giving them food and providing them with temporary housing. We will see people at their best.

As I think about the blessings of the year past and look forward to those that will come in the new year, I can not help but think that seeing people helping people in crisis is a blessing in the midst of disaster. That is a good part of what is happening in the rainy Northwest. Still, I hope that we do not get to the point where we see people helping people build arks or cruise ships in which to wait out the storms.

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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