Greetings from Galveston Island

Published 5:20 pm Thursday, November 6, 2008

That some mighty special people inhabit the great state of Georgia became clear to us 14 years ago when my niece, Kelly, married a Georgia boy, Patrick Jones of Athens.

He has since charmed us all, so much so that we proudly wear the Dawg caps he gave us.

Until Hurricane Ike, however, we had no idea that Georgia was home to so many remarkable people. It was Georgia Power that showed up almost before the wind had stopped blowing and with breathtaking speed, thanks to 16-hour days, turned the lights back on all across our island.

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I had the great pleasure of meeting a few of these men face to face as they toiled night and day to help our restaurant and hotel get back into business. Personal thanks goes to Charlie McQueen and his 24-man work gang, especially Greg Hudgins. They were committed to restoring our power regardless of the complications that arose from damage to the transmission equipment.

We will never forget what the men of Georgia Power did for us Texans.

It doesn’t end there, however. In rebuilding our restaurant, I ordered some fire sprinkler parts from Swift Fire Protection in Elberton. Unbelievably, when it came time to take my credit card information and billing address, Merrill Franklin learned we were residents of Galveston Island and said, “I will send the parts to you with tomorrow’s mail, but I can’t accept your money.”

Even as I write these lines this totally unexpected act of compassion and unbridled generosity clouds my eyes and puts a lump in my throat. When you are down as we are, you just don’t expect such kindness from a total stranger.

What is with you Georgians?

All my life I have proudly considered myself a son of the South, but no more so than in the last four weeks. On behalf of all of us who inhabit our island, I send to each of you our heartfelt thanks and profound admiration. We will never forget what you did for us!

Paulie GaidoGaido’s Restaurant and Seaside InnGalveston Island, Texas