When I was a teenager growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania in 1972, my home was devastated by Hurricane Agnes. The memories of the evacuation and devastation are still vivid. I was up late listening to the radio and heard that our area needed to evacuate—what did that even mean? I woke up one of my brothers and we sat for a while listening to the television reports. He confirmed, “We need to get out of here.” We woke our brother and our parents and had about 6 hours to evacuate. In the middle of the night in the pouring rain I went door to door ringing doorbells to wake my neighbors and give them the news.

We each packed a suitcase. What does one choose? I packed my secret letters and poems, fearing that someone would find my private notes. We left behind all of our photos and material treasures. Moving things from the basement upstairs was a fool’s chore as we lived in a ranch and had ultimately received about 14 feet of water damage. We left home and watched on TV the water and devastation everywhere. My family was fortunate enough to find a temporary apartment to live in while we rebuilt our home. I worked for HUD and left on a bus early in the morning with a hardhat and crowbar in hand. Some memorable chores included unscrewing doorknobs in the homes of the elderly because that was all that was left to salvage.

Years later I was in Vermont after Tropical Storm Irene tore through our area and in New York when Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the city.

What happens during such a time? Your perspective and values shift and change. Your house, your things, your shelter are gone. What you have is your loved ones, family, and friends providing support. More recently during Hurricane Irma, my friend from the west coast of Florida texted that it was life affirming how we take care of one another and lean on one another.

Every day I am thankful for my husband and son, my brothers and all of our extended families, my dear friends old and new, my colleagues, and my newfound community I am proud to call home. This season especially, my thoughts and compassion reach out to those who have suffered and are continuing to suffer from devastation and loss.

In this holiday issue, Stratton Magazine speaks of freedom, traditions and family, the bonds we create, and all that we can do to care for one another. The Mountain Media family wishes you a healthy and happy holiday season.

–Marcia Lissak