I've been trying to figure out why one of the anonymous commenters on this blog seems to think it is significant that I am not living in Tarentum. It feels as if the suggestion is being made that caring about Tarentum and what happens here is inappropriate for a non-resident.
Let me tell you Central Presbyterian Church's story about Hurricane Ivan.
Central Presbyterian Church is an official FEMA emergency shelter. We make sure the Tarentum Fire Departments know how to reach officers of our church in case any of the large apartment buildings in our neighborhood require evacuation. We don't get paid or rewarded for doing this; it is simply part of our church's role in the community, and something we can do because of the capacity of our building.
Early on the evening of September 17, 2004 two officers of our church heard about the flooding along Bull Creek, and heard that some people were being evacuated. We did not know the scope of the problem. We took the initiative to call the Fire Department to ask whether our church was needed as a shelter, and we were encouraged to open our doors.
So two officers of the church, one a resident of Harrison township, and the other a resident of Lower Burrell, opened the building and waited at the church in case the number of people being evacuated from the Bull Creek flood plain exceeded the capacity of the fire hall that was being used as a staging area for the evacuees.
There was a power outage in the neighborhood that night; so the church was without lights for a few hours during the flooding. We lit some candles. The two non-residents may not have been engaged in heroic rescue actions for which they lacked training, but they waited at the church (and not in their homes) in case it became necessary to extend hospitality to local flood victims.
It is no secret to Tarentum Borough that Central was the first church in the community to open its doors in case it was needed as a shelter that evening.