You've probably heard about the ice storm of a week ago that has devastated much of the central United States and caused dozens of deaths from car accidents, hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning. Especially hard-hit are Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky. Hundreds of thousands of people, especially in Kentucky, are still without power and may be so for weeks to come. Without electricity, lights and most hot water heaters, furnaces, stoves, refrigerators, and other appliances are inoperable. Ominously, local officials have expressed anger at what they say is a lack of help from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (oh, no--not again!). It all reminds me of the infamous Ice Storm of 1991, here in western New York State, when heavy damage to trees, homes, and electric lines was widespread (look here for photos and a first-hand account), and some local residents were without power for two weeks or more. I know--my family and I lived through it!
Maybe Kentucky officials are looking for help in the wrong places. It's reported that many of that state's 8000+ Amish residents--who have gotten along just fine without the conveniences we take for granted all their lives--have been bringing relief to their modern-living neighbors in the form of lanterns, well water, cooked meals, and other assistance. These humble, generous people are not only relieving discomfort, but saving lives. They live their faith, and help us remember the way communities were years ago, and should be still today.
There are a number of Amish and Mennonite communities in western New York, especially in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties south of Buffalo, and in Lyndonville and Penn Yan, west and southeast of Rochester, respectively. We love to take a drive on a nice fall or spring day out to one of these areas, see the Plain People at work, and stop to buy some cheese or other goodies at one of several Amish/Mennonite stores in the area. For as long as I can remember I've been fascinated with, and envious of, their simple, faithful way of life.
Amid all the anger and suffering in this modern world, the Amish keep shining through in their quiet way. They're God's old-fashioned blessing to the rest of mankind!