Tornadoes: the morning after

Photo: Bryan Wood

Photo: Bryan Wood

This photo is 20 minutes from my house. The communities of Mayflower and Vilonia were hit hard last night by an enormous tornado. At least 17 people are dead. Many more are injured. Even more have lost their homes and all their possessions. It’s just devastating to see the damage to our neighbors’ lives.

If the town Vilonia sounds familiar, it’s because three years ago, a line of tornadoes flattened parts of that town. They had just about finished rebuilding. And now this.

One of my friends, Cotton, is a storm chaser caught some pretty scary video of the system.

Just moments after he shot the video, this is Cotton's truck.

Just moments after he shot the video, this is Cotton’s truck.

Tornadoes are no joke. Storm chasing is not for the faint of heart. Cotton will be the first to tell you that there is a fair amount of debate if storm chasing is a good idea, given the topography of our state. I’m certain that debate will rage on forever. It seems kind of pointless to fight that battle today.

I grew up in the tornado alley of Arkansas. I’ve sat in the closet under the stairs at home, in the hallway at school with a book covering my head or in the bathtub of my college apartment more times than I can count. These aren’t just theoretical fears. Three years ago, a tornado threw a tree on our house, missing my son’s bed by less than 10 feet. Tornado sirens are the soundtrack of springtime in The Natural State.

April 2011

April 2011

In some ways, it seems absurd to be shocked every time this happens. But we always are. We always hurt. We always look for answers. We never find them. I will never understand why these things happen.

Short of finding any cosmic meaning in these storms, we are left with what we can do to help with cleanup, rebuilding and healing. If you are so inclined to help these communities who have suffered so very much, please check my friend Kim’s blog. She’s updating regularly with needs and how to help.

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