Last Wednesday, an ice storm rocketed through Chester County with almost meteoric speed, knocking down both trees and utility lines and leaving hundreds of thousands of county residents without power. Over the course of the last week, the significance of the storm has turned once quiet, tree-lined country roads into tributaries clogged with PECO trucks and tree cutting service vehicles, all in a desperate effort to return Chester County to functioning speed. For many residents, the return to normal was a fast turnaround; for others, their week has been one of empty pizza boxes, shower visits to local fitness centers, the smoky inhale of wood stoves and fireplaces, and the hum of a generator. Albeit a temporary existence, the swath that this most recent storm has left has turned the lives of many of our fellow residents into a week of great inconvenience.
Now, Chester County braces for yet another storm this week, one expected to be far worse than the one of Feb. 3. The National Weather Service forecasts up to one foot of snow and one quarter-inch of ice will fall on the county between late Wednesday evening, continue through Thursday and end sometime in the early morning hours of Friday. Because none of us can predict in advance of the future, none of us truly knows what the aftermath of this next storm will bring, but it is logical to assume that the scenario that has played itself out during the last week will be replayed all over again. In what has been one of the worst winters in recent memory, our fortitude and our patience will again be tested.
We can, as a large community, hunker down in our homes and brave whatever comes...or we can open our homes and share what we have with our friends, family and neighbors. Food. Warmth. Showers. Comfort. Community. Those of us who have the luxury of generators can invite those without power over for dinner. Those with fireplaces and stoves can light a home fire for the neighborhood.
In what has become the winter of our discontent, we can either let the on-coming storm shut us down, or we can allow it to reveal the better angels of our nature. Open your doors, Chester County, and let's get through this together, not separately.