Perspective for Suffolk

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, September 8, 2011

There’s nothing like true suffering to give us all a little perspective.

Many of us in Suffolk and the rest of Hampton Roads found ourselves stressed out because we lacked electrical power for a few days following the passage of Hurricane Irene. Admittedly, the situation was inconvenient, and each of us breathed a sigh of relief when the lights finally came back on, but it was easy at the same time to lose our sense of proportion about the effects of the storm.

Here in Suffolk, the Kimberly community and a few other low-lying parts of the city were briefly under shallow water when the storm left town. Today, more than 100,000 people across the Northeast USA have been evacuated as rivers in Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania have risen many feet above flood stage in the wake of steady rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. Some of those areas were just beginning to recover from flooding left behind by the remnants of Hurricane Irene, a little more than a week earlier. Entire cities are threatened by the rising waters.

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Here in Suffolk, we all have been frustrated by the thick smoke that has enveloped different parts of town from a fire that has burned in the Great Dismal Swamp for more than a month, continuing to smolder even through a hurricane. The smoke has been a source of frustration for those of us with outdoor plans, and it has even carried a level of danger to people with certain health conditions and to drivers headed through the worst of it on some mornings.

But the 6,000-acre fire in the middle of some of Virginia’s remotest wilderness area cannot begin to compare to the hellish conditions that folks are facing in Texas, where wildfires spanning more than 126,000 acres have destroyed more than 1,600 homes during the past week, leaving at least two people dead. In comparison, our troubles with a little bit of smoke seem insignificant.

Here in Suffolk, even in the midst of our own troubles, we clearly have plenty for which to be thankful. And while we’re in the midst of offering God that gratitude, it would be appropriate to take a moment or two to say a prayer for the people of Texas and those in the Northeast.

And remember, there, but for the grace of God ….