When people step up

Megan Kellerman of Minneapolis uses her cellphone on Saturday, June 22, 2013 while it charges off the battery of her car, which was crushed by a fallen tree on Humbolt Avenue near 33rd Street in Minneapolis. Numerous large, old trees were uprooted in this neighborhood east of Lake Calhoun and south of Uptown after powerful overnight storms swept through the Twin Cities. Hart Van Denburg/MPR News

It’s possible that the traditional end-of-the-year recap of the top stories of the year in Minnesota will include last June’s wind and rain storm that made a living hell out of sections of the state, including Minneapolis, but it will leave out the best part: the people who chipped in to help their neighbors.

It’s easy, as another post on NewsCut at the moment attests, to complain that people don’t know people much anymore, and that’s certainly true to a degrees. But when it comes time to step up, people step up.

That that’s a given and isn’t news reveals the frequency with which it occurs.

In Brampton, Ontario — somewhat southeast of here — and many areas in the northeast, a December ice storm has brought its share of misery.

This CBC description of the story this afternoon, however, rings a familiar theme:

Many neighbours worried about what might happen in the event of an emergency. A couple people on the street have disabilities and one woman is pregnant.

“The fact is there are medical needs on our street, so we knew that we needed to get things cleaned up,” Hillhouse said.

Instead of waiting for busy city crews, a few residents started cutting branches into manageable sizes and clearing them from the road. Soon, others trickled out of the warmth of their homes to help.

“Some people were breaking up ice on the sidewalks, some people were shovelling driveways,” Hillhouse said. “Other people that couldn’t help went to Timmie’s and got coffees.”

At one point, nearly 50 people were helping out, including several children dragging branches to pile them up on the sides of the road.

One of the neighbours who came out was Bailey Parnell, a Ryerson University student visiting her father for the holidays. Though the family moved to the street 14 years ago, they knew few residents. That changed yesterday.

“As of two days ago, we didn’t really know most of our neighbours, but now I do,” Parnell said. “And now when I go on a walk, I’m going to be saying hey to a lot more people.