The Answer, My Friend, is Blowing in the Wind

The air was thick with the acrid smell of burning wood and…something else I didn’t recognize.  The trees were crowned with twisted rolls of silver.  There was a thick foggy drizzle falling and there was a made bed, sitting there in the middle of the field, as though someone had just spent a cozy night, sleeping under the stars.

This is the view that greeted us a few Friday mornings ago, when we drove to check on our friends after the tornado raged through our area.  We are accustomed to driving behind Amish buggies, but this morning the driving was even slower than normal.  Everywhere we turned, there were buggies, barns, pieces of what used to be homes and pieces of RV parts strewn about the road.

The devastation simply took my breath away – the National Guard was in the middle of town, trying to keep people from looting.  (At a time like this??!!  What is WRONG with them?)

An RV plant that Jeff used to work for was literally in pieces, with the RVs tossed about like popcorn across a field that is nearly 4 football fields in size.  The seating area in the local Taco Bell had a bathtub tossed through one window and a mattress set through another and part of a boat through the main doors.

We passed houses that looked normal from the front, but had the entire back half ripped off.  There were homes where the entire top floor was missing….or perhaps there was one central wall that remained, but nothing else.

Watching this little town recover has been very interesting.  Seeing the differences between the Amish response and the English response has been of particular note. Suffice it to say, right now, we’re done being able to offer assistance (the immediate need has passed) – we have consistent internet access again – and the visible affects of the tornado are “off” our lives. And yet I know there is much to be gleaned from all this, once I have time to but stop and ponder it.

Has anyone else been through the incredible devastation of a tornado?  Do you feel wiser, being on the other side?  What lessons did you find blowing in the wind?

(Because of the depth of the pain we saw in the lives of those affected, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to take photos – but NOAA got a few – this link will show you the path and a few pics of the devastation.   The yellow house under picture number 15 is where we helped empty their garage – look safe to you?  😀   The first three pics under 18 are small glimpses of the huge field of RV debris.  We found pieces of that debris up to 18 miles from this site.)

3 Responses to “The Answer, My Friend, is Blowing in the Wind”
  1. Sherri says:

    I went through a tornado when I was a small child. It was a tramatic experience..hard to get over. Fortunately, we didn’t lose any lives and our home was “fixable”. Our little town was torn apart, but not destroyed. It pulled together as small towns do..there truely is good in all people in times of need!!

  2. javadawn says:

    Sherri, Growing up in KS, I went through tornadoes as a child, too. My grandmother remembered running to the fruit cellar and having to climb over the waves of linoleum that were being sucked up off the floor of the kitchen. I know that fruit cellar well. I spent many summer nights in it.

    This time, however, it struck much deeper. I think it was watching the moms responding that affected me so greatly.

    One Amish woman, obviously great with child, was sitting on a wagon, giving direction to those that had come to work and she was pointing and gesturing, all the while, the stray tears were slipping down her face. She didn’t even take the time to wipe them away – she simply kept on about her work – never giving in to the absolute ache in her heart of seeing her home – the place intended to shelter her precious babe soon to arrive – in nothing more than crumbs and twisted walls.

    Another woman captured in my memory was standing in her yard, in the midst of the rubble, her crisp white apron flapping about her legs, and suddenly she simply buried her face in her apron, as though she could bear to look no more.

    And one mom is indelibly in my brain, as I was watching her, she simply collapsed. She had been standing looking at her home – which was perfectly fine on the first floor, but the second floor was nothing but a wall with a sink on one side of it and a pink wall on the other – and she was looking into the field beyond her home and seeing pieces of wall from her upper floor lying strewn about.

    It was here that I saw a made child’s bed sitting in the middle of the corn. Suddenly, this legs of this woman simply gave out. And from what seemed to be no where, there were 3 women – dressed like men in their grubby jeans and flannel shirts – who grabbed her up and held her. There they stood, oblivious to anything but the shared pain, and they wept together. Tears of dirt and ash and just general grime rolling down their faces. It was very powerful. It was heart wrenching.

    For me, having come so close to losing our own home (obviously not via tornado) and then being able to come home to a solid house after all that, this event was truly momentous. I just can’t wait to finish sorting it all out.

    I know what you mean, though, about the good of people. The city put out a request for “neighboring” towns to come help move the debris. They planned it for Sunday morning at 9. People arrived in BUSES. They had to turn people away, as they had no way to direct them. So, the buses simply dropped folks off in the center of town and people wandered about asking how they could help.

    Where our family was working – in that yellow garage, which was also right beside the school that was damaged and the church that was destroyed – there was a group of men who showed up and said, “We’re here to work and we brought our own Bobcats and front loaders. Where do you want us?” They had come from 45 min away.

    We saw both the milk of human kindness and the vileness of human nature. It was an amazing few weeks.

  3. myderbe says:

    Wow. That is loving your neighbor as yourself. What opportunities we have to reflect Christ, the Perfect Love!

    Within a couple days, I read in the news about devestation by tornado, devestation by wildfire, devestation of entire towns by environmentally-caused cancers, war, murders, sickness, and the list goes on. In the midst of such suffering, we have so many opportunities to shine. We can offer the only hope that is to be had. What a privilege this loving our neighbor is!

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