Editor's Soapbox

A lot of us had no idea how bad it was.

I was mowing my lawn on Friday afternoon as the storm rolled in. I kept checking the radar on my phone because those clouds were starting to look awfully green, but it seemed like the whole thing was maybe just going to slide right past us. So I kept mowing.

Then the lightning started popping off like a daytime fireworks display and the wind picked up and started blowing sheets of dust and dry grass north to south. When the rain began coming down I finally gave up, pulled into the garage and called the dog in.

And then rain, thunder, a little hail. The skies were clear an hour later, and I was back out on the mower trying to finish up.

It seemed like just another storm.

It wasn’t until later that night when I plugged back in and started checking on things that it became very, very clear that for too many of our neighbors in the area this storm was a terrifying, catastrophic event.

It’s shocking the difference a couple of miles can make. A twist of the wind and the brunt of the storm would have hit somewhere else completely. Nature is fickle, usually unfair and often unkind.

And there’s really no preparing for a thing like this – a barrage of ice balls the size of your fist. Sometimes the only lesson you can take from a disaster is a reminder of how fragile we are, and how quickly the things we take for granted can change – and this was a pretty powerful, terrifying reminder of that aspect of life. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, as the old saying goes. Unfortunately, so does the hail. I’m sure I speak on the behalf of everyone reading when I say that our hearts go out to all those dealing with the aftermath of the July 19 storm, and that we wish them a quick recovery from the damage it caused.

Dealing with the aftermath of the storm has its own  challenges – not the least of which is dealing with the stormchasing, hard-selling contractors who have suddenly arrived on everyone’s doorstep.

Our readers are an intelligent and reasonable bunch who understand the value of getting recommendations, shopping around and making sure you’re working with someone capable and qualified.  

On the other hand, I can understand the temptation to just say yes to one of these guys. You have a problem, and here’s someone right in front of you who wants to fix it. These guys talk a good line. And more than that – wouldn’t it be a relief just to get it all done?

But we all know what the right thing to do is in a situation like this: ask around and (preferably) shop local. The only thing worse than a disaster like this is to have that disaster compounded by falling prey to a scam artist who will leave you with shoddy work and an empty bank account. It’s worth the time and trouble to be careful.  

Speaking of being careful, a friend called the other day with a story and a message.

She explained that her husband was pulling a load of hay last week, and was stopped to take a left turn and waiting for traffic to clear when another vehicle came up behind him too fast. The other vehicle managed to avoid the tractor, but ran off into the ditch trying to do so. It was a pretty frightening experience for all involved, and she can’t help thinking of what would have happened if that vehicle ran into the tractor with her husband exposed on top. Please, she said, everyone just slow down and pay attention to the farm equipment and the other big machinery on the road. Getting where you’re going a minute or two faster isn’t worth the price.

Here’s hoping that Mother Nature is a little kinder to us this week. Safe travels and best wishes to you and yours.

Mike Gainor is the editor of the Pine City Pioneer. Contact him at editor@pinecitymn.com or 320-322-5241.

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