Looking back a year later on the week that was


Jonathan Miano / Staff Photographer
Sun Publications 2009-02-09
Susan_Carlman_01 Jonathan Miano / Staff Photographer Sun Publications 2009-02-09

It was a week, all right.

A year ago, we collectively sort of revised the concept of a tumultuous week.

On April 15, 2013, which was a Monday, the venerable institution known as the Boston Marathon was redefined by a pair of accused serial killers armed with pressure cookers and crude homemade bombs. Once again, an unfathomable act of violence put us all on alert, abruptly fearful anew, once again suddenly and vaguely uneasy in the company of strangers.

And then the rains came.

As you might recall, vividly, extraordinary rainfall on April 17 and 18 left Naperville and the towns around it thoroughly saturated. The bridges downtown were all shut down after the Fawell Dam was opened wide to soften the impact of the DuPage River gushing over its banks. Schools were closed, many of them for two days. Store windows remained dark, their sales crews unable to get to work.

Just in case that wasn’t bad enough, hundreds of people in the city also had to cope with untreated sewage that had backed up in their basements. It was pretty rough.

Coming to roost within a span of hours, these two otherwise unrelated events had the effect of tapping us on the shoulder with a loud and jarring reminder that we’re really not so firmly seated behind the wheel of the day-to-day bus as we might want to believe. This was not a good feeling.

I found it interesting that in the past few days, news outlets have had plenty of stories about the marathon’s anniversary, and what is likely to be its triumphant return this Monday. Yet the passing of a year since the most recent local 100-year flood went by with scarcely a mention. Except maybe this one.

Yes, interesting. Certainly the two calamities that marked that week a year ago arose from vastly different circumstances, yet both left us feeling exposed and vulnerable all the same.

Sure, Naperville has rallied to do what can be done to address what went wrong last April, fast-tracking the modernization of drainage pipe systems in some of the flood-prone parts of town, beefing up storm management networks in others.

But there’s only so much we can do to protect ourselves from Mother Nature’s uninvited and unwelcome short fuse. We’re fond of talking about the weather, despite understanding that we can’t do a thing to change it — it’s still a perfectly fine talking point. (Truthfully, how many “Argh! This winter won’t quit!” exchanges did you have with perfect strangers in the past few months? Personally, I lost count).

But random acts of hatred, particularly those committed inexplicably in the name of faith, unite and mobilize us. We call for the swift hand of justice. We call for better vigilance. And we do our best to adapt to new habits like doffing our shoes and swapping out cosmetics bags and Dopp kits for disposable bags that zip shut when we choose to fly somewhere. Sometimes taking these steps makes us safer. Most of the time it allows us to feel we can do something to protect ourselves, which has value of its own. Still, they are responses to things that were flung at us, utterly uninvited.

As I write this, the work week has a day and a half yet to go. I’m loath to jinx things, but so far it’s been a slow news week. Given this same span in 2013, this comes as welcome relief.

Sometimes, no news really is good news. Just don’t tell my editors I said that.