Monday, November 13, 2006

Citizen Intervention Saves City from Inundation

Well, the roof did not blow off last night, nor did anyone else's in the area. On my ride across Portland this morning I saw not one roof off of its house. Nor did I see any felled trees, though the newspaper showed one downtown. We had a rain-free weekend but now we're back to the same rate of deluge as last week.

Friday on my way to my hideout I noticed this woman poking around in a lake with a long stick -- a woman noticeably not dressed as a sewer worker. She was trying to free a storm drain of leaves. As I coasted closer to the intersection she glanced up at me and I recognized her as a good friend -- a friend I think of every day as I ride by her office building in this mostly industrial part of northwest Portland. She did not recognize me back until I spoke. “Whatcha doin, Miss?”

She kept poking and stirring, the lake diminishing around her until suddenly the last of the water disappeared through the grating with a giant slurp. Then she kept on with the stick, removing the leaves from each section of the grate and flicking them away.
Four other non-sewer dressed women walking by watched with amusement, pausing before crossing the street. Thank you for doing that, said one. Yeah, said another. When all the leaves were away from all the holes, my friend ran down the block to stick the stick back in the ground at a small construction area.

We decided to go to lunch right then – instead of playing phone tag for a month and then finally scheduling it and then postponing it three times until finally making it happen. So we did. Yet another example of normal human connections that are allowed to occur if you don’t close yourself off from the world in that little metal cocoon known as the automobile.

While we walked to a nearby lunch spot, she begged me not to post her picture on my blog. Begged. So here she is, as an inspiration to all out there who might prevent the flooding of surrounding buildings just by picking up a stick and poking around for a few minutes. The city work crews can’t be everywhere at once.


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