“I’d do it again because it was the right thing to do.”
Produced and edited for the Welcome Project by Rebecca Werner and Brandi Casada.
Transcript for Reach Out to Our Neighbor
A couple years ago, when we had a significant snowstorm and it was an isolated snowstorm where we—you know, as Northwest Indiana, as you know, we get a tremendous amount of lake effect snow. A particular morning two winters ago, a plume of snow, lake effect snow, was coming off of Lake Michigan and dropping over the city of Gary, and it was actually isolated within the city of Gary, too. It was basically from Broadway—downtown—to Cline Avenue, right where I work. So, it was a pencil effect just all day long dropping off of Lake Michigan. And in a twenty-four hour period, I believe it was around twenty-three inches of snow fell, give or take, but in that neighborhood.
Gary was overwhelmed trying to keep up with it. Traffic had come to a standstill. I was trapped in it for awhile. I was able to work my way out of it. But the mayor of Portage, on his own, called up Karen and the administration of Gary and offered to send help. Even knowing that he probably, politically-speaking in his own town, would take a beating for it, he did, but as he said many times, “I’d do it again because it was the right thing to do, to reach out to our neighbor.” And that’s what we need to do to make a difference.
Throughout the local media and that, I know he was challenged from some of the council members that maybe didn’t agree with his decision. But, he on numerous occasions, even though he was challenged and some folks maybe thought it wasn’t the right thing to do, to send trucks with their taxpayers’ money to Gary, his answer was, “Lookit. If that storm would’ve shifted and went this way, ten miles the other direction, it would’ve been us, and we would’ve been looking for help because we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with it. And I would want to be able to reach out to Karen, or hope Karen would reach out to us, as well.” And he says, because that’s what he believed, is that you have to help each other.
I think Lake County and Porter County are probably better neighbors, and friends, and share and have a mutual cooperation with each other better today than they ever have. I think there’s probably still always going to be some division and—just because that’s politics. If you look at it today versus years ago, you know, I don’t know if there was ever a big division or a big wedge between the two, but I think that there was obviously some just because of the the problems that Lake County faced with the big three inner cities of Gary, East Chicago, and Hammond, being part of the county. As time has grown and time has gone on, they do face a lot of challenges in Porter County, some of their own things that have happened along the course of time, maybe better understand it. Me personally, what I see? My opinion is, I don’t think there’s a big division between the two.
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