Dread and fear.
I felt them over the past two weeks as the flooding Passaic River drowned my city. No matter how prepared you think you are, the question niggles, Have I done everything I can to prepare? Inevitably, no. There is always something overlooked. For me personally, it was the basement. It flooded with 6 inches of ground water as the water table rose. Parishioners [we live in a parsonage] told us it was the first time in 60 years that the basement flooded. Fortunately I lost very little. But I’m still drying it out.
Paterson is still counting its losses. The fate of the School 4 building is still unclear. How we change our land use in the 1st ward is still to be addressed. But after two serious floods in one year, it’s clear Paterson will have to make changes. We will have choices to explore.
As the flood was first a threat and then a reality to be endured, I kept thinking about the 9/11 attacks. My husband and I had a 4 pm flight to Italy planned for that day. I was finishing my packing when the planes hit the World Trade Center. My excitement about our trip turned to fear and dread. What else would happen? Would my daughter, a brand new teacher with a class of 5th graders at School 7, be safe? Would Howard get back from the bank? We ate dinner that night as a family under silent skies trying to discern what was next.
In the days that followed, we worked for calm and understanding. I wrote an opinion piece for the Herald News that talked about how my daughter’s students responded to the attacks by caring for their Muslim classmates. My husband walked the streets of South Paterson where he serves a church so that he could personally counter the terrible lies told about Paterson’s Muslim residents. Hope grew out of reaching out for our neighbors.
Fear and dread can paralyze us or offer us the opportunity to grow. We can’t control the threats, but we can live readiness to serve. There is always much to do.
If you want to help the children of School 4/Napier Academy, teaching supplies for primary students would be helpful. The flooding destroyed the Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms, drowning all those carefully hoarded bulletin board materials, books, paper and art supplies. Call us at PEF for more details about how to help.