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Tuesday, May 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Editorial: Lend a hand or ask for help; we’re in this disaster together

In the stunning aftermath of last Tuesday’s violent windstorm, evergreens and power poles were strewn about like giant pick-up sticks.

Much of the city remains a mess, and thousands of people are still without electricity. Meanwhile, the temperatures are plunging and snow is in the forecast, which could complicate power restoration, tree removal and other cleanup efforts.

If ever people needed a caring community, it’s now. And the people of the Inland Northwest have warmed to the challenge.

You’ve seen it in your neighborhoods, and you can read about it on social media. Facebook, Twitter and websites, including this newspaper’s, carry a wealth of information that couldn’t be accessed during the last big natural disaster, Ice Storm in 1996. Technology has allowed people to reach out more than ever – as long their phones stay charged.

The windstorm was unprecedented, and it has overwhelmed government services and the power companies. But ordinary citizens have stepped up with chain saws, tarps, roofing materials, firewood, generators, food, candles and batteries. People with power are opening their homes to the unfortunate folks shivering in the dark. A warm shower never felt so good.

Hard-hatted linemen are saluted like heroes and supplied with coffee and sandwiches, but despite the long work shifts and the importing of crews from other towns, the work is slow in the hardest-hit areas.

Some people are beginning to wonder whether the response has been adequate, but the time to judge is when the lights are back on and everyone can rest.

Spokane Public Schools announced that classes won’t meet for the rest of this week, but five schools are open and are serving meals. Schools and libraries have welcomed people who need to charge their phones or just warm up.

Unplugged family time might have been charming for a while, but it’s normal to want to return to comfortable routines. Board games and winter camping only go so far. Cold, dark nights take their toll. It’s only natural that nerves have begun to fray.

The best any of us can do is to help others. Check in on neighbors, especially the elderly. Offer to do laundry, fix a meal or invite them into your home. Shovel the walk if it snows.

The city is looking for volunteers to go door-to-door in neighborhoods without power to check on people and deliver basic supplies. About 250 people have already signed up, and the city wants 100 more. A training session is set for Tuesday morning from 9 a.m. to noon at City Hall Council Chambers. Another session will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the West Central Community Center.

Conditions in these neighborhoods are harsh, and residents shouldn’t be hesitant to ask for assistance. We’re in this together, and few of us have come through unscathed. The storm has been a humbling experience, and many people have a newfound gratitude for the comforts of home.

Empathy has turned into action, and it’s been heartwarming to watch.

To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on Opinion under the Topics menu.

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