Masters’ Monday afternoon started out as an uneventful one for me.
But just after 4 p.m., what sounded like a plane hit our house.
From different parts of the house, Bob and I ran to the front to find that two huge trees from across the street had blown into our house – water pouring in on my beautiful hardwood floors, leaves hanging below the ceilings, power off. And for me, the eerie feeling, “This is not good.”
What happened over the next few hours was nothing short of an amazing glimpse into what America is really all about.
Our 911 call brought the most professional and caring firefighters to see if we were safe and to help us get out.
Within 30 minutes our State Farm agent, Kelley Lawrence, was here. And within an hour the most incredible people arrived and just took over.
I finally got out of the house and joined Bob and the workers as they gathered in the rain. In no time at all, they went straight to work: Equipment like you can’t even imagine was operated by men who knew exactly what needed to be done.
We stood in the rain and watched them organize, with few words, an orchestration like a dance of ballerinas.
Bobcats, front-end loaders and bucket trucks all filled our street – men seemingly oblivious to the rain and havoc all around them. From around 5:00 in the afternoon until nearly midnight, they never stopped. Carefully strapping lines to the pieces of the trees, gently pulling them away and then, with lightning speed, dropping them to the ground, only to turn around to do it all over again.
An assembly line of muscular men grabbed the heavy limbs and branches and fed them into a chipper, filling up dump trucks. They were unafraid and committed to the mission.
I could see their bulging muscles against the truck lights, which provided the only light as darkness and rain fell. These were workmen! The people who make our country run. Men who never took a break, never stopped to eat anything, and never slowed down to even catch an extra breath.
Our insurance agent stayed from late afternoon until almost 11 p.m., even though his own wife and two little girls were home dealing with the storm, as well. He was calm and helped keep us so.
I can’t say enough about the importance of making sure you have a local and solid insurance company, and especially your agent. He contacted the people who came to take care of us.
And how about your neighbors! Isn’t it great to know the people around you will be there when you need them? So many who came and offered us a place to stay the night, who brought folding chairs for our weary bones, who brought pistachios and goldfish in plastic cups to sustain us, and who sat with us in the rain as we watched in the darkness.
Near midnight, the roof had tarps and the workers pulled away, assuring us they would be back at first light.
We fell into bed in our dark house, cold and thankful. About 4 a.m., I awoke to flashing lights through the dark windows. I jumped up to find the street filled with huge trucks containing rolls of wire, a Bobcat, several pickup trucks and men with lights on their helmets.
Georgia Power was on the scene, and it turns out they had been there since about 1 a.m. – just amazing!
They never stopped working, and early Tuesday afternoon we had lights on again. I asked one of them if he’d been there during the night. “Yes,” he said. Isn’t that just awesome? All night long and into the afternoon of the next day.
America at work!
I would love to give named credit to all the people who came to our aid, but I suppose I can only briefly say what kind of men they were.
The first guy was Julio Perez, of Southeast Restoration, a tall, calm man who was brilliant and clearly very respected. He was in charge of the first crew to arrive. Then Manny McWhorter, of C&M Services, who told me his mother brought him and his sister across the border when he was 2 years old and raised him to become an American.
Such a sharp guy, and so concerned that everything get done correctly. Obviously, his crew had great respect for him.
And “The Stump Guys”! Wow! These would be the ones you hope will be nearby if you ever need help. They just fearlessly jump in and get it done!
So many people — most of whom had some connection, but were very loosely connected until a crisis. Then we were all one: Americans doing what Americans do!
The next day, when we were able to get our cars out of the garage, I saw the damage the storm had wreaked over our area. Our story must have been repeated many times over during these last days.
It is so assuring to know just how much we can count on each other. I, for one, am most grateful.
The writer is a retired real estate broker and wife of former Augusta Mayor Bob Young.