On Easter Sunday we tucked our kids in bed and kissed them good night. Just before sunrise on Monday morning, storms ripped through our community. We woke up to tornado alerts on cell phones. We sheltered with our kids to wait it out. The worst of the storm passed, the sun rose, and our hearts sank as we learned of the loss of lives and loss of homes.
My throat still gets tight with tears for the heartache and suffering experienced by those impacted. The sudden death of loved ones is something we never get over. The devastation of property is unimaginable. Pictures and video make it look small. When you stand by the rubble you KNOW the enormity of it. As a mom, who gets overwhelmed just picking up after her kids sometimes, I will not lie, seeing an entire house collapsed on itself is more than my mind can process. But at the same time, my heart swells because of a community so motivated to action. Member after member shaking off the shock and looking for ways to be of service. From making sure people have temporary shelter, have food and water, taking care of those needing medical and emergency assistance, restoring power, to clearing roads and tackling rubble, all before the dust even settled.
I am not surprised though. This same community has stepped up to serve and give through a pandemic. So many learning to sew masks, delivering supplies, and donating both money and time to causes. Neighbors are being checked on. Packages left on doorsteps. Those who are sick write about their “porch fairies”. Our daughter asked where she could find toilet paper and within an hour had toilet paper. These are not small things. This is deeply rooted in the vision, dreams, hopes and challenges of community themselves. It is about so much more than the buildings, roads and infrastructure. It is about community choosing what their future looks like, and then acting on it with the support of agencies and groups. Not the other way around, which happens so often where agencies act, and community follows. It is about community recovery and it is more than that — it is community led recovery where lives are built again.
You can build back structures, but can you build back connection and community values? This is what matters most. In our rush to respond to emergencies, our community rushes to care and support our members. It takes all of us. What we see is a community stepping up, linking arms and contributing together. We are in this together, and together we will face what comes next. We must lean into each other and our faith to survive it. Don’t be afraid to get a place at the community table. Bring your skills, your talents, and your contributions. What I can do is so little but TOGETHER, we are community strong.
You can flip, jump, and run through our sweet little community during this two minute tour with our kiddos.