This month marks the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens. I had just turned fourteen in 1980 when my world as a teenager turned upside down. Dealing with the effects of two inches of powdery gray ash covering every inch of town, wearing face masks in public, the interruption of school, the closure of stores and restaurants and the devastation of ash in pipes, drains and city streets was more than difficult for the citizens. Sound familiar? I don’t recall who the Mayor or County Commissioners were at the time or who was in charge of “my” world, but I do know that having to wait for three full days to take a shower was pure anguish. In the middle of the third day I admit I couldn’t take it any longer and I threw my teenage-self into the shower and soaked in the luxurious warmth until my mother abruptly turned off the shower and scolded me for turning on the water and for being an irresponsible citizen.
In early March of 2020, as Mayor of Longview, I signed a proclamation designating the Cowlitz County Incident Management Team as the lead for discussions, decisions and dissemination of information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic for our county. This team of more than 40 people is a broad and diverse group of leaders who represent all facets of our county and its citizens. I appreciate the time, effort, and expertise of this team working tirelessly to provide insight, direction, and clear and consistent messaging to our citizens in this time of crisis. Notwithstanding, time seems to be dragging on through this pandemic as we all yearn for the hustle and bustle of life and business. At times I have felt like my 1980-teenage-self; a bit impatient and ready to be done with COVID-19 once and for all so we can all get back to our normal lives.
Through many years of decision-making and watching other leaders lead, I have learned that not all decisions are popular or well received. The precautionary measures by which we have been asked to abide are being provided in good faith for our health and safety and are meant to protect, not subject. However, it is sometimes difficult for everyone to make responsible, unselfish decisions and show kindness to those in our community that may choose differently – particularly when some decisions may appear to put us in harm’s way. That harm may be physical, financial, emotional, or a myriad of other risks that are part of this trial we are all going through.
So, what is next for all of us? Know that as we receive more information about our ongoing level of risk, we are identifying every available opportunity to get business and life moving again in our community and are pressing our state leaders to acknowledge our efforts and our resolve. Last month I spoke of the desire to cling to HOPE - but what comes after Hope? I believe it is endurance. While I know that endurance is subjective, it is that resilience inside each of us that helps us to pull up our boot straps and keep moving forward, despite overwhelming challenges. It is that quiet place of resolve that says we will move forward - together; we may not know how, but we will try with the hope of succeeding. I have seen the human family rally around each other in situations that seem insurmountable and still come out the victor. Whether it be going back to work, moving forward with intended plans or shifting gears to a new adventure, that steady beacon of hope has placed us on this path. Now, let us all endure!
Thank you trusted community for all of your efforts during this storm we are facing. Thank you for trying, and for helping our community be a place we can be proud of and worth fighting for. Please continue to have hope on this path of endurance. I look forward to seeing you there!
Mayor MaryAlice Wallis
Please view the latest COVID-19 videos
Economic impacts video: https://youtu.be/PcXFnsW2jG0
Mask video: https://youtu.be/-YS6XCH07uA