The Aspen Flood of 2005
September 15, 2005
Newton’s Third Law states: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This is a law that applies to the physical world, of course, and relates to how interactions take place when gravitational, electrical and magnetic forces interact.But it is striking that “an equal and opposite reaction” also occurs when the American people are confronted with a large-scale disaster, whether natural or manmade. The silver lining of the calamities of the current century has been the outpouring of support shown by the seemingly unaffected for those who found themselves in the cross hairs.Why this takes place is open to discussion. Empathy, of course, goes a long way toward explaining why people rush to help those in need. But beyond that, there is a personal need that people who are not in harm’s way have to do something.Regardless of the motivation, it has been heartwarming, to use a cliché, to see how the people of the Roaring Fork Valley have joined Americans in all 50 states to help those who were traumatized by Katrina. Carbondale “adopting” Pearlington, Miss., gives new meaning to the concept of a sister city. The lists in the local papers of places where people can take goods or donate money for Katrina relief are extensive and helpful. “The Sky Hotel Clothing Drive” and the “Koins for Katrina” program at Alpine Bank are examples that not only benefit the survivors, but benefit those who want to help.Perhaps the most meaningful local effort was one undertaken by a local politician. Who’d of thunk that Jack Johnson, the sort-of architect turned city councilman, would rise to the occasion and orchestrate a communitywide night of relief that was powerful not only in what it did for the South, but what it did for our sense of place here in Aspen. Major kudos and future votes for the first positive act by a politician in recent memory.And then there is Rick Balentine. When the local fireman packed up to go to So Cal to fight the fires a couple of years ago, he already established a place in heaven for himself. Now, with the can-do, get-it-done spirit he demonstrated when he headed to New Orleans, he might just run the place in the afterlife. Heaven, I mean.Yes, as bad as Katrina was, the flood of support shown by this country and this town, has been a tremendous positive. An equal and opposite reaction to Katrina’s negativity, if you will.
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