Weathering the storm
By Col. Edward C. Rothstein
You often hear people using this expression when something happens good or bad. After Friday's storm, I'm using this phrase literally to describe the violent storm that moved through our community.
For most of us, Friday's storm came without much warning. Unless you happened to tune in to the 6 p.m. weather reports and the forecasts of local meteorologists, you had little or no idea that fast-moving storms with hurricane-force winds were heading our way.
It was the second time this summer that Fort Meade has had to react to severe weather. That said, I could not be more proud of the way many of you banded together during this difficult situation.
I believe this most recent storm, which knocked down trees and disrupted power service to most of the post and region, was more damaging than the tornadoes we experienced June 1 or even during last year's earthquake and hurricane.
But like other times when we have had to recover from what nature had dealt us, this community has found a way to come together.
We expect the Directorates of Public Works and Emergency Services to be first responders whenever we have bad weather, whether it's a loss of power from heavy snows in winter or downed power lines due to near hurricane-force winds in summer.
However, it's seeing the results of their hard work that makes me proud.
Each time there is a storm, I am thankful we have such dedicated work crews who immediately assess the damage and take steps to return things to normal. DPW and DES worked tirelessly over the weekend on cleanup efforts and in coordinating with the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to restore power.
A special thanks to Jonathan Bright, the general manager of the Exchange, for opening the Post Theater this past weekend, allowing families without power to use it as a cooling station and relief from the sweltering heat. I know that being in an air-conditioned theater on Sunday, watching a movie while snacking on popcorn and candy, was very comforting to families affected.
At the Post Theater, I listened to families talk about how they could help each other make it through the weekend. In one discussion, several families talked about hosting a neighborhood barbecue to help families have a positive way to use food that would soon spoil due to power outages and temperatures that approached or exceeded 100 degrees for a third consecutive day.
It was a conversation like this, in which families were concerned with helping each other, that camaraderie made me proud. These types of conversations and acts of kindness were shared on community Facebook pages and at neighborhood centers.
Team Meade doesn't just talk resiliency, we live it.
Another hats off! goes to Queen Waddell, center coordinator of Fort Meade USO of Metropolitan Washington, and four USO volunteers for distributing pizza, cold bottled water and snacks to more than 100 service members and their families at the Freedom Center barracks.
Most likely, this will not be the only severe weather we will experience this summer. While we are still recovering from this past week's storm, I want to encourage everyone to take ownership for their safety and well-being. Every family should have a home emergency kit. Your kit should contain essential food, water and supplies to live on for at least three days.
Keep your emergency kit in a designated location in your home and in an easy-to-carry container in case you need to evacuate.
For more information about how to prepare a home and emergency kit, visit ready.army.mil, redcross.com or .fema.org (the Federal Emergency Management Agency website). The best way to handle an emergency is to be prepared for one.
Lastly, I want to wish everyone a happy Fourth of July. Soundoff! is published one day after this year's holiday. As such, it forces me to assume all went well with our post celebration and fireworks.
What's important for me to share with you, despite being a day late, is that we all found time to remember and celebrate the day our country was born, and honor the determined and patriotic men who were united in the cause of freedom.
I hope everyone found time to get together with family and friends, and enjoyed their time off.
Have a great week!
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