When I was growing up in Roseburg, Oregon, I was walking through two catastrophes. Catastrophe number one was the Roseburg blast. A truck carrying two tons of dynamite and four tons of blasting agents blew up killing thirteen people and injured many others including one, who later died because of the effects. The mood was somber and disbelief, the town’s people were changed. The night it happened I had a dream that I was riding my bike and my sister pushed me off the seat of the bike. When I awoke our house was tilting to one side. It was a small three-roomed house on Maple Street and the street was covered with maple trees that changed into brilliant colors of rich orange and golden greens throughout the year. It was located across the Green Bridge where the incident happened.
Several years later, when school was out for the summer, I experienced catastrophe number two. We moved further away from the Green Bridge. It was a bridge that connected two side of Roseburg — the east and west side, I believe. It was the only bridge in the city at the time. It got its name from the weathered green paint that was chipping away at its structure, and the ailing impression it left on your mind as you drove across it. I think the flood waters reached its road bed when our housing project was flooded out, and we were forced to live with Ralph who became our stepfather in the Green District, a suburb of Roseburg . Even though the impact and devastation was immense, and our house went under 5 feet of water, my sister’s off-white Catholic prayer book with its gold crucifix exposed was left lying on an upper shelf beside the top of our Christmas tree.
You may ask how did I have the strength to continue on with these horrific things taking place in a town where I lived and loved so much? My answer is this. We all pulled together and helped one another. When I didn’t have school books to read because they were damaged by the flood, my classmates offered me theirs to read . We’d come over to each others house and bake and sing, dance, read and eat together. We donated clothes and food and provided shelter for those who needed it. We became strong and our community became strong along with us. People, family, and friends are the ones that made the difference.