It’s really hard to put into words all the emotions that are circulating around in my head after Friday’s storms.
I know I feel incredibly fortunate.
We drove down there on Saturday morning, and I took one look at the area surrounding my parents’ house as we drove in, and I was so grateful that I was brought to tears. The road my parents’ house is on is about five miles long. There is only about 1/2 mile stretch of it open to cars because of the destruction, and my parents happened to live on that 1/2 mile. At the entrance (where it intersects the highway) is where this happened. I’ve driven past that saw mill, that mobile home, no less than 5000 times in my life. On the other end of that five miles, it looks like this. A tiny area of our county that is packed full of my friends from elementary school and their families.
And in the middle of it all, my parents, their three dogs, and my niece took shelter in the basement of the dream house they build 20 years ago. And they came out without a scratch on them, or a scratch on the house.The only thing changed was the door to the attic over the carport had been blown open thanks to the wind pressure and a few trees were uprooted. That. Was. It.
There are a lot of reasons why this could have been. The total randomness of tornadoes. The fact that the house was built a few hundred feet down the side of a ridge, protecting it. The fact that the house was built with incredible craftsmanship. Or maybe it was just pure luck. Whatever it is, as I watched my Dad and my Husband pull twisted metal from neighbors’ homes out of the lake I grew up swimming in, I was in awe that there wasn’t more to fix. More to do. We were able to clear the debris within a few hours.
I feel guilty. So, incredibly guilty.
I’ve been through this before. After our own tornado (which was only an EF1 compared to the EF4 that blew a football field away from my childhood home), I felt the same way. Of course, grateful to the core that we were mostly spared, but also guilty as can be that others weren’t. My family has excellent insurance and the complete and total ability to rebuild. Many of the victims of the storm do not have that kind of luxury. Washington County is a low-income place and I’m sure a lot of people lost everything with only a few dollars in their wallet. Why did it have to be them that got hit? We could have handled it (just as long as everyone was safe). I’m not sure our neighbors can.
Of course, that line of thinking is totally useless. It doesn’t accomplish anything except to rob me of the joy of being blessed. And paralyze me from being able to help.
I learned yesterday, that out of the outbreak of 45 confirmed tornadoes across the country that day, the most destructive was the EF4 that took out my hometown. And that little piece of information made me really sink into gratefulness. Especially when you consider my family has been spared twice, by two different tornadoes in less than a year. Oh how different this could have been…
It’s interesting, even though this didn’t affect me directly (as in, the homes of my parents, my sister and my brother, who all live in the area, were untouched and no one was injured), I am still hurting at the core. My hometown has a population of about 1400 people. My high school barely had 350 kids in it, and that was only because the school district extended way past the town limits. Everyone knows everyone. Every last name in the articles in the newspaper, I recognize. Every piece of tornado footage on TV, I recognize where it was shot. Every home that was destroyed, I’d driven past it a hundred times. It’s hard not to be shaken when a community you’ve known since birth, will never be the same again.
I also feel incredibly useless.
We did what we could. The tornadoes happened late Friday afternoon, so as of Saturday morning, they were still in search and rescue mode, which was for trained folks only. So we did the only thing we knew to do and went to Walmart and stocked up on food, water, toiletries, clothes, coats and gloves (it snowed yesterday) and donated them to the local fire station on our way into town. When we were unloading, there were so many volunteers mulling around. Taking care of those that were displaced. Giving them hugs. Handing them hot coffee. It warmed my heart to see my community come together like that, but also flipped a switch inside of me. I want to do more. I want to be more. Sure I have the disposable income to go buy some clearance winter gear from Walmart, but does that really help? Maybe a bit, but nothing like what the first responders were doing. Or even the person handing out a cup of coffee and a hug.
Maybe that feeling of helplessness will spark me to do something big in the future, but for now, the best thing I (and you guys) can do is lend a helping hand and wallet to the organizations that are providing disaster relief to the communities hardest hit.
I know both the Salvation Army and Red Cross are all over Southern Indiana helping out and both are accepting donations to help fund the relief efforts:
- Text “HOOSIER” to 80888 to donate $10 to the Salvation Army. Or donate online.
- Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross. Or donate online.
A side note about these donations: I myself am hesitant to donate to the Salvation Army because of some of their political stances, however, they were the only organization I saw in my town this past weekend. That’s not to say others weren’t there—I’m sure they were—but I saw the Salvation Army there with my own eyes helping without discrimination every single person that needed it. I put my political beliefs aside and donated to their organization because I physically saw them making the most difference in my hometown. And that’s where I wanted my money to go. Take that as you will.
Thank you everyone for your kind words and support. I promise to be back soon with some deliciousness to share.