Photo by Madalyn Wood

[Note: Hometown City Girl is a diary of sorts; a collection of my stories, experiences, and trials of growing up in a small town in Southeast Ohio along the river dreaming of living in the city and then moving there and realizing I don’t quite fit in either place. Parts of me are a little too “country” for Columbus, and parts of me are a little too “city” for the people I know down home. It’s an interesting balance but it makes every experience interesting trying to figure out what role I fit into.]

It’s no secret the Ohio River has played a bigger part in everyone’s lives in Meigs County this week than it normally does with the huge amount of flooding the area has faced. The power of nature is amazing – but what’s even more amazing is the sense of community that comes to the area when things like this happen. Even living up in Columbus the willingness to help a fellow neighbor has not been lost on me, I’ve witnessed the great power the area has when they come together.

Growing up in Meigs County I quickly learned when something happened in the area that affected a group of people, everyone was ready to lend a helping hand in anyway they could. Acts of kindness and generosity in these times were never turned away, big or small.

One seemingly small and simple gesture like this I witnessed recently was one of my coworkers had a death in their family. She comes from an area that’s not too different from Meigs, so when her community attended the services, they came with food in hand. Specifically she had too many chicken noodles for her family to eat on her own so she had brought some to have some of us take them home. I brought them home and when my boyfriend asked where they came from and I explained, he acted like it was one of the weirdest things he had ever heard. He couldn’t understand why you would bring someone who just lost their family food. I explained it was just what you did, and you certainly never turned down anyone’s homemade noodles if you were offered them. This idea that during a time of grief like this that there are communities that don’t come together never even occurred to me, and even bothered me some. When something like that happens you just sit down as a community, have a big meal, and a few laughs about some memories from the past, it’s just what you do.

I’m extremely thankful for growing up in a town so caring and tightnit that it wasn’t strange if your neighbor was going through something that you just dropped by their place with some noodles. I’m not saying the answer to help with everything is noodles, but it couldn’t ever hurt either. Even though in the instance of this flooding causing damage to a lot of properties for businesses and individuals calls for a lot of hard work repairing everything, that doesn’t mean that’s the only meaningful way to help. What I’m really getting at here is in a time of crisis each member of the community has their own unique way to contribute to helping their neighbor through. It’s been a truly inspiring thing to watch this past week as people that grew up in the area, but are no longer there have offered to help from afar by sending gift cards to help people rebuild, those with equipment have offer their uses, people have donated their time, physical efforts, and yes, food for those working.

We all have a way we can impact any situation for a positive change, and I learned that growing up in Meigs County. It’s something I’ve carried with me every day I’ve been away from the area, and because of these values I help where I can when I can. I’ve learned you don’t have to be someone who comes from money and power to influence those around you positively. For those of you in flood affected areas I know the worst may not yet be behind you with more flooding predicted, but take heart in your community. I assure you if you need assistance all you need do is ask and your neighbors of Meigs County will be there to help, and those not affected, do what you do best and help however you can.