Editor's Note— Last winter was more than usually full of traumas, natural and unnatural. Regardless of where one lives, natural events can devastate whole geographic regions. Hurricanes, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, tornadoes, and droughts, leave in their wake ruined homes, power outages, and crop failures. All too frequently, these natural disasters cause people to die, as well. Communities are forced under such circumstances to regroup and rebuild. It is in these activities that we may sometimes learn from disaster, as individuals reach out to one another to meet temporary needs. The power of collective action is demonstrated in stories told by public health nurses who witnessed and participated in disaster recovery.
For the second in the series of three reprints highlighting nursing following natural disasters earlier in this century, I have selected the account of a public health nurse who worked in rural Virginia in the winter of 1931 following a drought that left many residents of the region destitute. It was orginally published in Public Health Nursing in August 1931. From a late twentieth century perspective, her particularism and her choice of family to portray to her readers may grate on us a bit. Yet the enduring themes of effective public health work—case-finding, grassroots involvement, and collaboration—resound from one end of the century to the other.