April 27, 2011
Today it has been a year since my town began picking up the tornado shattered pieces of their lives and trying to put them back together again. A lot has changed since then, but the land and lives of families from here to Ringgold and beyond will always carry the scars of that night.
Sometimes I’m still in awe of it all. That first day, looking at all the damage, and trying to find a through street that would let us make sure our family was okay, all we could manage was a choked up “Wow.” or two as we saw so much devastation. All we could do was thank God for His protection as realization gripped us as we looked at flattened homes and remnants of someone’s life spread across the fields that this could have been our home, this could have been us. We spent the evening of the storm in the living room, oblivious to what was going on outside until the wind slammed into the house, and everything went dark before the sirens started. God truly had His hand over us.
But more than all the shattered homes, and all the broken trees, the thing that I’ll remember the most about the tornado of 2011 is the community. It was when I saw a tornado stricken home put a tent in their yard, and a sign offering food, water and a place to sit, and saw one tornado victim helping another one to salvage what they could of their possessions and homes that I realized that this tragedy had awakened the bonds of the heart and rallied people together in a way that the beautiful, lazy spring evenings of the past never could.
The tornado may have destroyed homes and taken lives. But it could not destroy the spirit of community. It could not crush out the strength of heart to rise up, and to build again with what was left…together.
It brought tears to my eyes as I saw older couples holding hands and smiling over the ruins of the home of their old age, saying “It’s okay. We’re just thankful we’re here today…together.”
And in the middle of disaster, that is what always matters. Being thankful, not for what you lost, or what was destroyed, but for being together. It is about getting up again, together. It is about rebuilding hopes and dreams and homes, together.
So today, on the one year anniversary of that F4+ tornado, I’m celebrating the progress that’s been made, and the community that’s been built. And I’m thankful, more than ever, that we’re all here together.
written for five minute friday. Photographs are from news articles and do not belong to me.