The Times 

Lessons on public good from '96 flood


October 7, 2021

To the Editor

A neighbor of mine who has been in the community for many years lent me her book ‘The Flood of 96 - in Dayton and Columbia County’, full of pictures of what is described as a 100-year flood. The pictures are full of the major damage and destruction that Patit Creek and the Touchet River caused. The book also describes the way that the community pulled together to try to mitigate damage and then to help clean up: citizens filled sandbags, high school students were sent to fill sandbags instead of school, people hauled and stacked sandbags throughout town, those with heavy equipment brought it out without being asked, neighbors roused one another to safety, and I’m sure that many made food for those helping out. Neighbors pitched in and did the, may I say, Christian thing. They looked out for each other, they showed kindness. That is what getting the Covid vaccine and masking is all about. That’s all - looking out for our fellow citizens by attempting to slow and minimize the spread of this virus. No one wants to have to go get a shot. If by getting one I can prevent myself from possibly getting Covid (costs money too) or being a disease vector in the community, sign me up. If it prevents me from clogging up the ICU or a hospital stay and taking a bed away from a person who has a heart attack or car accident, sign me up. If by masking I can prevent myself from breathing in this respiratory virus and shedding it when I am around the immunocompromised and the elderly, sign me up. If by doing these two small things I can inhibit the spread in my community, for the good health of all, sign me up.

Like the ‘Flood of 96’, the Covid virus is here for all of us to examine our values. Do we look out for each other knowing again, as with the flood, that what affects one of us affects all of us? Do we politicize a health issue - the virus doesn’t care what you think of which politicians? Do we ignore the values of kindness and caring we have been taught by our Christian upbringing because someone on the internet or TV (who we may not know) is not looking out for our community and spreading false and sensationalized information? There are many opinions out there but, over 700,000 people have died, and hundreds of children have lost one or both parents - one of my best friends has lost six friends. Hasn’t enough been sacrificed? Can we pull together in Columbia County with store owners and community officials (and those running for those offices) setting the example and following the laws and guidance in place right now about masking? No one wants to be told what to do, myself included, and sacrificing a little for others never hurts us, even when we don’t want to. As with the 1996 floods and how the community came together to overcome a common threat, putting aside individual concerns for the sake of the common good may even save lives.


JL Goldsmith

Dayton, Wash.


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