I took my first north to Holton in a while this week, and the scenery was a bit different. The primary reason for my trip was to speak to a class at Holton High School, but it was also suggested we do an update on their storm recovery efforts while we there. By storm, we're talking ice storm - as in more than four months ago...in December. What could still possibly be wrong? Seeing as how I was off most of the month of December, I didn't see the impact of the storm in person, only on video. As we neared the town, we noticed the trees lining the fields along Highway 75 weren't nice and tall anymore - most had huge limbs broken off in a circle around them - like a huge wilted plant. Since they aren't really in anyone's way, I imagine they're not exactly a priority to haul off - it's not exactly just a few sticks - it would be a huge chore. In town, crews were making another pass. The city manager says they've been trimming back from the rights of way, which partly explains the piles of limbs at the curbs. Also, every time the wind blows, branches weakened from two and a half inches of ice succumb to the gusts. We spoke with two gentlemen raking a yard. They kept their spirits up when I asked if they were frustrated, saying they knew it wouldn't be cleaned up overnight. As we finished talking to them, a woman drove by to thank us for being there. People don't realize what they're still dealing with, she said. It's a reminder for all of us just how long it takes to recover from any sort of disaster. We hear so much about it at the time, then a few weeks, a few months, go by, and it fades into the background. Think of the areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina. So many people flooded the area with help in the months following, and it was said then - remember these people years from now, because they'll still be needing our help. The same can be said of Greensburg, KS, nearly wiped out by a tornado last May. They are still rebuilding. The effort does not happen overnight. Next week, the CBS Early Show will be there lending a hand. Tune in for that, and be reminded that while it's great to deluge an area with help in the immediate wake of a disaster, they need it to do more than slow to a trickle when the real work gets started.
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