On Friday February 28th an avalanche, said to have picked up speeds of 120 mph, sped down Mount Jumbo here in our mountain town of Missoula, Montana in an area known as the Rattlesnake. It slammed into a two-story house and damaged parts of other homes nearby. The owners of the house, an older couple, and a young boy, who had been outside playing in the snow, were all buried in the wake of the torrent of snow. All three were rescued and still remain in the hospital, one in critical condition.
Yesterday, Saturday March 1st, a small crew of neighbors and community members began digging through the huge pile of snow and debris in search of belongings that could be salvaged. And today, Sunday March 2nd, thanks to the efforts of social media yesterday afternoon, I was part of a volunteer work crew of well over 100 community members. Throughout the day people came and went. People of all ages helped to shovel, sort found objects, and move snow. People came handing out cookies and donations of pizza and sandwiches from local businesses, one woman brought a large pot of homemade hot chocolate with cups to pass out, and there was donated coffee and bottles of water.
The spirit of community coming together was just wonderful. Smiles abounded and laughter was shared as we spent hours shoveling and moving snow. And every little uncovered object or article of clothing unearthed provided even more motivation and inspiration to keep digging. Amid the wreckage of a house swept off its foundation, twisted among long snapped wooden boards, broken concrete blocks, and bent metal, delicate items were unscathed. Beaded necklaces, bracelets, small figures and statues, a picture frame, a glass vase, hand written notebooks, and many other items were found and set aside to be cared for and stored. It was a reminder to me of both the frailty and the strength that exists within life itself, in all things.