A week ago, Sandy decided to turn northeast just enough to bypass Meadville in northwest Pennsylvania. The wind howled through the night and rain soaked the earth, flooding some basements; however, we never lost power.

And Allegheny College held classes on Monday.

This past week, I’ve been reading the news stories from New Jersey and New York, the states hit hardest by the storm, including some fine writing by my former Associated Press colleague Verena Dobnik.

Here’s a couple graphs from one of her stories:

“Around the metropolitan area, some of those lucky enough to escape the storm’s wrath have taken in Sandy’s displaced , friends, neighbors and colleagues who have fled their cold, dark homes in search of food, light, a hot shower and juice for their cellphones, iPads and laptops.

And the generosity toward the storm’s victims has extended well beyond the big city. In Charlotte, N.C., Brian Cockman and his partner have welcomed a revolving door of people stranded by canceled flights.”

The air waves and newspapers (and probably TV channels) have shared stories of friends, neighbors and strangers pitching in to help one another. Sharing food that would spoil. Cooking steaks on grills in the street. Offering showers and a place to sleep or work.

In 2008, I was in Houston, Texas, when Hurricane Ike hit. The power went out. Cell phones didn’t work. Neighbors found themselves gathering in the cul-de-sac. They grabbed chairs, bottles of wine and beer and brought what food they had that would spoil.

For a few nights, in spite of the hardships–in fact, because of the hardships–the neighbors spent their evenings together, sharing food and stories well past sunset. The family who had a landline let people call loved ones to let them know they were doing just fine.

As soon as the power returned, the neighbors retreated to their air-conditioned patio homes. The garage doors stayed closed and the neighborhood block-party vanished.

As I listen to the stories of generosity and kindness in the aftermath of Sandy, I am heartened; and yet, all too soon, it’s likely life will return to normal: conversations on glowing screens “connecting” us rather than conversations around a candlelit table or over a grill in the street.

In times of trouble and adversity, we do remember ourselves, our best selves, our true selves. I share the sentiments of Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders, in the song “Message of Love.”

“Now the reason we’re here/as man and woman/is to love each other/take care of each other/when love walks into the room/everybody stand up..”

So, yes, it’s a sexy song. It’s also a beautiful song, complete with a quote from “Lady Windermere’s Fan” by Oscar Wilde.

The sentiment rings true, though sometimes in the daily rush and crush of our lives, filled with hand-held devices instead of hand-holding, we may forget the most obvious and important thing in our lives: each other.

We are here to help each other, take care of each other.

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