Eleven years ago today, I saw firsthand what too many of you face now in the wake of last Monday’s tornado.
Many of you have gone – or will go – through a variety of emotions: shock, denial, anger, acceptance.
But know this: Above all, there is hope.
That’s been demonstrated by the outpouring of help from friends, family and strangers, all working to help others pick up the pieces, to help in the recovery process.
Said Scottish author Samuel Smiles, “Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burdens behind us.”
It’s not going to be easy. Recovery will take not days, but weeks, months, even years.
And once you’ve been through a tornado, you’ll never forget it. You’ll pay much closer attention to the weather.
On the night of May 3, 2003, an F-4 tornado ripped through downtown Jackson, Tenn., then an F-2 spun off from that twister toward Henderson County, where we were living.
Jackson, which has seen its fair share of tornadoes, saw its downtown ripped apart. Hundreds of businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed, stretching from Jackson to Lexington.
Eleven people were killed, dozens were injured.
The night of the tornado – actually around 2 in the morning – we were on our way to a friend’s storm shelter but wouldn’t make it. Instead we went to the Days Inn, which sat in a hollow or sorts, shielded from much of the wind. The hotel clerk, bravely doing her job from a closet behind the front desk, tossed us the key card to our room and told us to pay when we got a chance. With a 15-month-old in tow, we made it to our first-story room as leaves, limbs and debris started flying.
A tornado siren directly across the street from the hotel wailed as the tornado approached. The siren was silenced by the deafening roar of an aerial freight train.
At first light, we headed back to what we hoped was our home. I’ll never forget the slow, winding route we took. Normally a five-minute drive, it took more than hour.
Few homes were spared, certainly not ours.
The small army of people, not unlike today’s efforts, went to work to help salvage what we could.
Living four months in a hotel was a test of nerves and patience, but we made it through. Those of you going through the same thing – you’ll make it through, too.
Three years ago, when Smithville was hit by a deadly tornado, the memories from eight years earlier came rushing back as I drove through a devastated town that looked much like Lexington and Jackson, Tenn., on May 4, 2003.
I saw the faces of shock, grief and despair. But then, just like now, I saw hope.
In Tupelo, in Centerville, in Louisville, people have come together to help each other, the way it should be.
While the All-America City has garnered much of the focus and attention, let’s not forget our neighbors to the east and south. Not only Pray for Tupelo but Pray for Mississippi. We are Tupelo Strong and Mississippi Strong.
And this from Francois Rabelais, a Renaissance monk, doctor and writer: “I place no hope in my strength, nor in my works; but all my confidence is in God my protector, who never abandons those who have put all their hope and thought in him.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.