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BRAD ROBICHAUX — Adaptation abounds amid pandemic response

What can you do when the circumstances change? Adapt.

Everywhere, from restaurants to students to home-bound friends, there’s examples of adaptation to be found. It’s a sign of these hectic times, but it’s also a fascinating sign of the spirit of ingenuity.

Can’t go to class? Hold classes online. Schools across the country are heading in this direction, and Southeast Texas is no different. On Thursday last week, the Nederland Independent School District announced the launch of an all-digital program.

Easter Sunday saw nearly all churches vacant as the faithful stayed home to observe social distancing. The Easter Sunrise Service at the Port Neches Riverfront Park, a 52-year-old institution, was cancelled as a result of the pandemic, but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the holiday and services could still be found broadcast on Facebook.

I sat with my parents on Sunday to watch our local church’s Easter service online.

For the first time, Ritter Lumber rolled out a curbside pickup service to help residents safely shop. An essential Nederland business, the lumber and hardware store put in place several other measures to keep its shoppers healthy, like limits on people shopping in-store.

Despite their measures, they’re continuing to see steady business — and possibly even a bit of a bump in business since folks stuck at home might need something to do.

Mobiloil Federal Credit Union’s new app was released earlier than expected but is working like a charm to help members do their banking from the comfort, and safety, of their own homes.

The app integrates video-based services with representatives to allow members to do nearly everything that can be done in-person at a branch location.

Many of those still working are working from home. A number of interviews and contacts I’ve made have been over the phone with folks working at home. No matter what your feelings might be about mixing home life with office work, the option to work from home is a genuine lifeline for people’s livelihoods at this crazy moment.

I don’t know when, but normalcy — or something coming close to it — is going to return. I don’t think we’ll go entirely back to the way things were before the pandemic, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Some of the innovations dreamed up because of the pandemic will still be useful after the worst is over and our communities can open up again. New methods of communicating created because of the need to rely on digital platforms are going to help more people get access to important services.

Silver linings don’t always blunt the costs, though. What good comes out of this pandemic isn’t going to fix everything, and it’s not going to bring back those that lost their lives to it.

But we can still learn from the experience. What did we do that’s still helpful? What do we need to do in the future to mitigate the damage if, heaven forbid, something like this happens again? Don’t just move on and forget all of these lessons.

Adaptability is one of our greatest strengths, and you can be sure that human ingenuity is still alive and working.

Brad Robichaux is a reporter for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at brad.robichaux@panews.com