“It seems like the apocalypse is upon us.”

A friend of mine made that observation in early September as what seemed like every conceivable natural— and manmade—disaster ravaged the United States.

While Oregonians watched in horror as Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Houston, and Hurricane Irma waited in the wings to flatten the southeastern United States, the state of Oregon looked more like Beijing as smoke from wildfires polluted our legendary clean air and put entire communities at risk.

It was so bad that an electric co-op CEO suggested I wear a mask as I drove through a national forest area to speak to his employees. I didn’t heed his advice and I wheezed through a mountain pass. But I was lucky. At least my house wasn’t underwater or in danger of burning to the ground.

The images and carnage from the hurricanes are heartbreaking, but so are the stories of people helping their neighbors during these desperate times. The response from electric cooperative line crews racing to the southeast to help turn the lights back on for states plunged into darkness is just one example of how we are doing our part as humans to help those in need.

There are also stories you don’t hear, such as the one about Oregon co-op employees who helped a former employee remove prized possessions from a home that appeared destined to burn in a wildfire.

There were two lessons to be learned from the events of this fall. The first is that Mother Nature is an unstoppable force that can humble us all. But from these tragedies we learn the second lesson: We are at our best when things are at their worst.

Ted Case
Executive Director