Neighbors of Rock Creek Woods supply the warmth

By Petula Dvorak
Friday, February 12, 2010

The political snowball fight has already begun.

We'll hear about politicians who failed us and government agencies that fell down on the job. The people who run Metro trains and buses and the snowplows will be questioned by investigators.

As we grow desperate to find a guilty party for the $100 million-a-day price of the federal government's shutdown, Mother Nature herself will be hauled to Capitol Hill to testify before a House subcommittee hearing on Snowmageddon. People will Twitter about her ill-fitting power suit.

But before official Washington launches into its predictable disaster blame game, it might be nice to note what went remarkably right during this great whiteout: the way many communities banded together.

All over the region, neighbors looked out for one another, housed those without power, checked on the sick, shoveled out the elderly.

Our compassion and our only-in-Washington ability to organize, delegate and do was apparent and remarkable this past week.

In Rock Creek Woods, a Montgomery County enclave of 76 homes, the neighborhood response began at dawn Saturday, when almost half of the homeowners awoke to no electricity, damaged trees and a blanket of snow.

Valerie Tate, a 6-foot-tall nurse with Annie Lennox-style hair, stomped through the snow with her Labradoodle, Miranda, and noted who was without power.

The day before, she was working to mobilize doctors and nurses headed to Haiti. On Saturday, the effort turned to her block.

Within hours, she and a bunch of neighbors had created a schematic charting everyone's state of affairs.

If you were pink on Renana Keynes's color-coded Google doc, you had power and were staying put; orange meant you had no power and were staying inside your cold cave, and so forth.

They organized people to carve out a walking path for the migration of folks to other homes.

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