What’s it like being someone in charge- at any level- having to make decisions about the health and welfare of our entire community?
This week I found out.
Last week, I started talking with a client of mine about the steps we needed to take to make sure all the residents at a local senior community were safe. They asked for my help for talking through what we needed to do about upcoming primary elections, where these communities serve as a polling place for residents and people in the surrounding area.
I made calls to our County Commissioners to bring the issue up and our concerns. We set up a meeting with voter services. And we brain-stormed decisions that would allow the greatest access to everyone but also keep non-residents off of the campus, to keep everyone there well.
A day later, we were talking about steps for social distancing in the Township office, procedures for our emergency responders, and how to communicate this all out to everyone in the community. Cancelling all meetings and non-essential services on Wednesday seemed like it might be over-reacting, but when they closed Broadway and Disney on Thursday, I knew we had made the right decision and did it in a timely fashion.
We shared what we were doing with neighboring municipalities, and have offered to help them if we can. Small things matter now, like helping to get the word out when things change, or new restrictions are in place.
Our County commissioners declared a disaster yesterday, Friday the 13th, as the Governor closed schools, and we followed suit, declaring a state of emergency in the Township. This basically paves the way for inter-governmental cooperation and doing what we need to do to make sure everyone is cared for appropriately. We’re not entirely sure what that’s going to mean. I think we all know we’re in uncharted territory here.
Without a clear plan and rules coming down from higher up in the Federal Government, we’re taking actions on the local and County level to make the best decisions possible to keep the most number of people healthy as we start to see community spread of the virus. Things will continue to change and we’re doing our best to keep everyone updated as we learn more.
Preparedness means being ready for whatever comes. You can do this with advanced planning, because even if you have to riff in unexpected circumstances, at least you have a baseline plan as a point of reference. We have that, and that’s good news.
How is it- emotionally?
We had a crisis that started almost a year ago, when we found one of the township employees was stealing money. That led to many changes in our township that actually have us in much better shape to withstand a storm- including very strong leadership. I feel like we’re in great shape with all the hard decisions we’ve made in the past 10 months, and that has me feeling very relieved.
I’m glad I’m here to really help my community when it needs it most. We need to all work together. Knowing that when I call the county commissioners- and tell them what we’re worried about or what we need- and they called me right back and listened. We talked through the issue and they are working on solutions. As long as we all stay in sync, things will go well.
But I want to DO Something….
The most frustrating thing sometimes in a case like this, there’s not much you can do- it’s not like a snow storm where you can help shovel people out, or I can make sure the road crew is fed when they’re working overtime to keep roads clear and safe. In fact, what we’re all supposed to do is basically hunker down like there is a snow storm, stay put, and avoid each other like the plague. (A turn of phrase with new meaning now, of course.) At least in a snowstorm, I could make cookies and hot chocolate for the neighbor kids sledding in our backyard. Now it’s making hand sanitizer and staying put.
Please do your part during this unprecedented situation. Stay at home as much as possible. Keep your kids at home. Do what you can to help others- if you have to drop something off, drop it on the porch.
There will be plenty of people who think this is silly and overblown. But we all need to pull together to make this work. If we don’t want a mandated shut down that will last longer, we need to do what we can now- and that means listening to guidelines and following them. It also means being kind and helpful to our neighbors, and we’ll get through this.
I’ll keep you all informed on social media of the latest news and updates as we get them. And most of all- stay safe and healthy.