DENNIS SEID: Tornadoes can’t hold down spirits of people

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

After a disaster, there are countless stories to tell.
When nearly everything you have has been swept away, it’s often difficult to gather those painful memories and share them with others. Sometimes you want to forget.
But sometimes you want to talk about it, too. It’s a release valve of sorts.
And so last Tuesday, as rain fell and wind blew during an unusually cold May day, dozens of Smithville residents gathered at what was left of the Piggly Wiggly, waiting for $2,000 checks from a fund to which two anonymous donors contributed.
Despite the heartache and horror they had faced not even a week earlier, they shared some of their stories with each other – and with strangers.
There was William Holland, who wheeled his wife in her wheelchair to the hallway of their home, where they huddled together as the tornado blew apart part of their home.
There was Judy Herring, whose daughter was in her house as the tornado hit. All that was left was the bathroom – the same bathroom where her daughter safely hid.
Doug Allred was in his storm shelter. He could hear the devastation all around. He, like so many others, lost his home.
Their stories were just a few that were shared that day.
You could see the pain and sorrow in each of their eyes. You could feel their emotions, stripped bare by what they had seen, what they had gone through.
But you also could feel their spirit, their resilience, their determination to move ahead. They will rebuild their homes, their businesses, their lives.
The estimates of the destruction range from $50 million to $100 million or more. Fourteen of 16 businesses destroyed. Hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged. Sixteen people dead.
But you can’t put a price on people’s lives.
The people in Smithville are going through a range of emotions – shock, denial, anger, confusion, fear – and hope.
Driving into town, walking among the ruins, seeing the rebuilding efforts, admiring the volunteer efforts, it was hard not to shed tears for the people of Smithville. Tears of sorrow – and tears of joy – that a community and its neighbors have come together during this terrible time.
Maybe it was irony or coincidence, but as I drove out of town, I turned on the radio and heard Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Hold my hand.”
The lyrics couldn’t have been more fitting:
“With a little love and some tenderness, we’ll walk upon the water, we’ll rise above the mess. With a little peace, and some harmony, we’ll take the world together, we’ll take ’em by the hand.
“Yesterday, I saw you standing there. Your head was down, your eyes were red. No comb had touched your head. I said get up, and let me see you smile, we’ll take a walk together, walk the road a while.
“Cause I’ve got a hand for you, cause I wanna run with you …”
“Hold my hand, want you to hold my hand, hold my hand. I’ll take you to a place where you can be, hold my hand. Anything you wanna be because I wanna love you the best that, the best that I can.”
Let’s keep holding their hands.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com