I was 11 years old and went with neighborhood kids to see a dam on a stream that ran through Litchfield. At the height of the flooding, we stood by the old dam, and in our curiosity, walked downstream where the water was boiling.

Above the dam it was placid, so to our young minds, it was safe. We stood below the dam watching it for a while, and suddenly I had a prickling sensation and told the other kids to run up the side hill. For some reason, we all ran at once, and just as we reached the top, the dam broke and swept through the bank where we had been standing.

I remember boiling drinking water for what seemed like weeks, and urgently trying to get to my grandparents' home in Thomaston to check on them, but we couldn't get through for days. I also remember seeing the devastation in Winsted, Torrington and Thomaston -- it all made a deep impression on my young mind, and I have ever since tried to respond to disasters as generously as possible, no matter where they occur in the world.