I'm taking time off from normal rants. There was plenty to grumble about given the announcement of Kamala Harris as Hidin’ Biden’s vice-presidential nominee, in which they gave long rants and pathetically allowed no questions.
I can always gripe about this "woke" society we live in now where everyone’s a victim.
This week, something else is on my mind.
How old were you when you first heard of a derecho or a mesoscale convection system? In my case, sixty-three and I’ve been watching weather a long time.
Derecho is a Spanish word meaning "straight." In meteorological lingo it’s associated with the storm that clobbered Chebanse and Kankakee Monday night. It’s considered a straight-line windstorm associated with fast-moving groups of thunderstorms, or a mesoscale convection system. That knowledge, and $5.08 will buy an iced latte at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Sadly, the derecho decimated old majestic trees at the Kankakee Country Club, where I miserably attempt to put together a golf game. Fortunately, an oak planted in my father’s memory survived a larger tree falling on it. Another tree was completely uprooted, exposing its underside - about nine feet in diameter. A disheartened head golf pro, Kevin Fitzgerald lamented he’d never seen a golf course so tore up.
Shortly after the storm passed, I drove from my office, as we had no electricity, to Chebanse to have dinner with my mother. If you’ve been a reader of this column, recall I grew up in Chebanse, often mentioning it in some sort of jest. I’m very familiar with the municipality, many of its residents, and even a few characters.
Driving the streets through the tiny town was saddening. It appeared as if a bomb had gone off. Yards, driveways and streets were blocked with limbs, branches, and a few power lines. Yards were littered with leaves and sticks. They actually had to clear streets with a snowplow. Areas I knew well were almost unrecognizable. Trees having seen a hundred years of storms had fallen in yards or on roofs of some unlucky folks.
Then I noticed something else. Everywhere I drove, people were out cleaning up messes. Neighbors were helping neighbors. Just in the short time it took for the storm to move through and my drive to Chebanse, residents had already begun to clean up the carnage leveled upon their property. Some were cutting fallen branches off trees, while others hooked heavy limbs to pickup trucks to drag away to the community pile at the ballpark I played at daily. The activities were almost orchestrated, and most amazingly, the residents were doing it themselves. It reminded me of the residents of Whoville after the Grinch stole their Christmas when townsfolk headed out to sing anyway.
My mother has lived in the same house for nearly sixty years and is over a hundred years old. The house, not my mother. She has a large lot with many trees, bushes, and flowers. The neighbors all have…or had, trees around her property as well. Sadly, some fell into her yard.
Maneuvering up her driveway, I thought her yard didn’t seem to sustain that much destruction – lots of leaves and small branches, but damage seemed minimal. A branch had evidently fallen on a split rail fence, knocking some of it down, but it would be easily repairable. The driveway was certainly navigable, more so than some streets.
I was wondering if she’d just been lucky. Then I realized her lawn had sustained extensive wind damage too, but her neighbor, Rod Perzee, and buddy, Phil Snyder had already been to her house to clear up what they could. They did this before cleaning their own yards. She certainly had been lucky – lucky to have such great friends.
Thanks a million, Rod and Phil. You’re the best.
Several local farmers immediately came to town with equipment. Town maintenance supervisor James Smith worked tirelessly. Even the towns of Clifton and Ashkum, including Ashkum road commissioner, Adam Weber (no relation - one "b") sent maintenance crews to clear away messes.
This tale doesn’t end there.
I went back to Chebanse Wednesday morning to look around some more. Incredibly, my hometown was nearly back to its former self. Yards had been cleared of most the rubble; some of it sitting out by the street for removal. Other yards were already clear of debris, having had already been hauled away. Some folks were out raking their yards. Some lawns had even been freshly mowed.
The Chebanse people handled their adversity with virtually no outside help. They aided each other in the middle of a pandemic and with no electricity. Incredibly, the town was almost back to normal within two days.
I’m proud to call Chebanse my hometown – those folks are so resilient and incredibly neighborly. Unlike the cretins you see on your television at night, Chebanse folks epitomize what it is to be Americans.