Imagine it’s 10pm and you have just arrived home from work. You commute from L.A. and the freeway was particularly bad this night because of the weather. Accidents everywhere; cars moving at a snail’s pace. You just want to get home and lay your head on the pillow so you can get up and do it all over again in the morning.
As you walk up to your home set back from the street, something is different. There are cones blocking the sidewalk on your normal route. Water has washed-out the path. Too tired to go around you decide that wet shoes would be a small compromise rather than walking around the block to the other sidewalk.
You look up and then it hits you, the cones were not blocking the flooded sidewalk but the tree that fell on your home. Not just any tree, but a tree so wide that two people hugging on either side of it would struggle for their fingers to touch. The sudden surge of adrenaline wakes you up as you sprint around the block to the other sidewalk.
From the front, it looks like the neighbor’s home took the brunt of the damage. Your home, the second one in looks okay.
You go inside.
Nope, the ceiling is caved in where a tree limb pierced through the roof. A piece of drywall hangs perilously over the living room. Otherwise the everything looks as you had left it. The adrenaline wears off and all you want to do is go to sleep and deal the mess in the morning. As you reach down on to your bed you find it is soaking wet. The roof must have been leaking here too.
John is one of my neighbors. And like neighbors sometimes do in this new digital age, we’d just waive to each other when we pass by. Maybe comment on the weather. But this day was different. I knew that John’s home was affected by the falling tree and as I passed by he was loading a pickup truck taking some of his things to storage. We talked for a bit. John’s dad is ill and this just adds to the stress. I also learned that John is a Veteran and was deployed overseas. One thing that I know about Vets is they have a mental toughness and will to persevere. I offered him my back and pickup truck if he needed any more help, after all that is what neighbors do.
Last month I wrote an article about a program I created to give back to First Responders; Police, Firefighters, Military, and EMT. These are the people that we call on in an emergency and lately they are the ones that have been vilified in the media and in protests. My goal is to give back to this community, and it is my personal mission to donate $10,000 towards first responder related charities. You can read about my mission here: www.IrvineFirstResponders.com. It got me thinking about my neighbor.
Of course, I offered my help to move furniture and the use of my truck. More than just being neighborly, I truly want to help. As timing-would-have-it he was about done, and I was off to an appointment. Later I began to wonder if there was more that I could do. Sure, insurance will pay for the construction costs. Both homes will be rebuilt, but what about the cost of putting your life back together? Renting storage, sleeping in hotels, eating out, replacing the bed, the TV etc.? The HOA’s insurance is not going to cover those sorts of things so unless you are personally insured, there are going to be expenses. Even if you do have some sort of added coverage the deductibles are almost always too high. That doesn't sit right with me.
There are two families that have had their lives disrupted. One is even a Veteran. All too often we hear, “someone should do something”, or “the government should do something”. I believe it is truly the responsibility of the community to help each other out, not the government. That somebody is each of us.
Besides, why not donate directly to the ones in need? So, I am personally donating $500 to help these families with their unexpected costs. If you feel compelled to contribute, any amount, no matter how small $10, $20, $100 I’m sure will help. A GoFundMe account has been setup at www.gofundme.com/treedamage.
Let’s come together as a community and help these neighbors through this unexpected tragedy.