Editorial: Together

We are all in this together.

There is nothing like a catastrophe to draw people together and cause them to rearrange their priorities.

Hurricane Sandy drove that point home these past several days.

Before the storm began, utility and work crews headed east to help out. Here, Wilton welcomed line crews and chain saw crews from Minnesota, who said plainly, “We just want to help.” They wanted no fanfare, no spotlight. In fact, many tried to politely avoid questions from the press.

And Wilton’s response was nothing less than grateful and generous.

When our country is so divided politically — especially at the end of long and arduous political campaigns — it is truly uplifting to work hand in hand with our fellow countrymen.

As neighbors, we also pulled together.

Once again, Wiltonians without power flocked to the library, which publicist Janet Crystal dubbed the community’s “living room.”

Although the library was not officially open last Tuesday, people without power flocked there and the skeleton crew on staff let them in. When the doors opened Wednesday it was as if the proverbial floodgates had opened. More than 10,000 people sought refuge there as the library provided 4,000 wireless connections. That’s an average of 678 connections per day; on average the library provides 61 connections per day.

Patrons drank 16 pounds of coffee and ate eight dozen bagels and eight pounds of cream cheese. Close to 350 extra chairs were used, and 30 tables were set up for computers. More than 115 rolls of bathroom tissue were used up.

It was not just the library. The Wilton Family Y also opened its doors, recording 4,000 visits from non-members. The Y offered hot showers, warmth, Wi-Fi, bulk water, free coffee and tea, and power for re-charging cell phones and other electronic devices. Some visitors used the opportunity to get in a workout or a swim.

The Y lived up to its mission: Always Here for OUR Community.

Doubtless many businesses in Wilton also rolled out the welcome mat. Last Tuesday an employee at Starbucks answered the phone with “We have power, we have Wi-Fi.”

CERT volunteers opened the town’s shelter for eight days, offering a warm place to sleep and meals for those who needed them.

And town officials pledged to stay at the Emergency Operations Center until the power to every home in Wilton was restored.

That power may not have come back as quickly as many had hoped. But it would not have come back at all if not for the efforts of so many.

DPW and parks and grounds staff — many who do not normally do roadwork — were deployed for 12-hour days, and many worked longer than that during the height of the storm. It’s a small town with a small staff but they shouldered a huge burden with good humor.