Disaster Convergence

April 7, 2020

In all of the shock, confusion and grief of the past few weeks, the most nourishing input in my life has come from an On Being podcast entitled “Falling Together.” It features Rebecca Solnit whose historical studies of disasters and what they bring out in us as humans helps counter the panic that rises up in my own heart as I check local, national and world news.

Though she does not say who originated the phrase, disaster convergence is the truth that in times of crisis many help rather than hoard.

“But there are these extraordinary stories, and people really — that impulse to help is so powerful. And they call it disaster convergence, and it often becomes a problem where you have — you remember after 9/11, people lined up around the block. Like half the country to give blood. People really want to help, and that’s who we are.”

She goes on to say:

“And then oftentimes, the people who do the really important work in disasters, which doesn’t get talked about much, are the neighbors. Who’s going to rescue you when your building collapses? When the ice storm comes, and the power goes out? It’s probably going to be the neighbors.”

The day before I listened to this podcast, I had heard reports of Bridge of Hope neighboring volunteers delivering groceries, supplies and care to the women in our program. Realizing that these volunteers had begun this good work, before this crisis, increased my gratitude for these individuals ten-fold!

Finally, she talks about Dorothy Day, whose heart to see communities meet the needs of the poor began when she found herself as an 8-year-old living in Oakland, CA. She witnessed the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906, which killed 3,000 people and annihilated the center of the city shattering a hundred-mile stretch.

“She treated poverty as the disaster in which she would create this kind of community, this deeper, broader, higher, more spiritual sense of community than private life had offered her.”

Thank you for being a part of history–as people who already see poverty for the everyday disaster it is and for rising up strong on behalf of these moms during this historic time of unusual crisis. May we continue to be among those who were generous and sacrificial during such times like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Amy Lorraine Au
BOH Greater Denver Case Manager

Disaster Convergence