During the week and a half that I spent in Silver Creek and surrounding areas following our floods on Aug. 10, I listened to the first-hand accounts of victims and first responders who told me of the actions of others.
I am convinced that only Divine Intervention and the efforts I heard about prevented the deaths and serious injury of hundreds of our residents. After hearing the victims tell of their near-death experiences, I sought out many of those who had risked themselves for their neighbors. I met many of these true heroes and asked them about the events. In each case, whether it was a trained Emergency Services professional or someone acting on instinct and an innate desire to help another person in trouble, the final verse of the account was the same, "I am not a hero, I was just trying to help."
How humbling it is to meet both the victim grateful to have been saved and the person who was the savior, and discover that neither sought out the limelight and each are more inclined to talk about the heroism of the other for surviving the trauma, or providing the rescue.
In our world of round-the-clock news cycles, all trying to create a story by focusing on the negative aspects of our existence, I have been overwhelmed by my experiences of the last two weeks in areas that flooded. Here in our county the real news is the character of the people of our region that was exhibited time and again in this crisis. It is the conduct of the people who surround us in Chautauqua County every day, our co-workers, our friends, and those we have never met, who drop what they are doing and race to help that has inspired me. This is true of our first responders who do this every day, and also those people and businesses who have given of themselves and their resources to help.
While I cannot in this short piece clearly express or recount all that was accomplished, all that was contributed and all that is left to be done, I can tell you that I have never been more proud to call Chautauqua County my home.
- Gregory J. Edwards, Chautauqua County Executive