Current events, Tornado, Weather

Close Encounters of the Kansas Kind, by Beverly Hicks Burch

I grew up in Alabama. What most people don’t realize or associate with Alabama is inclement weather. Alabama the beautiful is a Gulf Coast state with white sandy beaches that are caressed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The foothills of the Appalachian Mountain chain meanders into the northeastern part of the state and as a result, Alabama at one time had a “ski resort” in a sleepy little town with the unassuming name of Mentone. Yes, it does snow in Alabama, just probably not as much as most folk are use to. And, like a portion of the rest of the USA, we can experience unpredictable and violent springtime weather. I’ve heard references to Alabama as being located in the second tornado alley of this country. In other words, we’ve had more than our fair share of tornadoes. I, my friend, have had more of these Close Encounters of the Kansas kind than I would like to think about. (They are not easy to recover from.) I’ve been reminded of that as the nation has surveyed the damage of the violent, monster storm that inflicted such horrid damage on the small town of Greenburg, Kansas.

This small community, located in the heartland of the USA suffered mightily this past weekend. Ninety-five percent of the town was affected or damaged. The pictures on TV are surreal. One sweeping aerial view depicted a landscape totally obliterated…only skeletal tree trunks left standing, and a grid pattern or roads, intersecting, trying valiantly to recreate a town that once knew normalcy. The pictures of devastation of this little community has, at times, left me feeling like the air had been punched out of my lungs. The maximum winds of the storm that hit this little town far exceeded winds Katrina had to dish out…it was THAT violent of a storm. Exponentially speaking, if a major US city was to suffer the same kind and percentage of damage…well…it would be cataclysmic.

There has been something else I noticed. You can tell a lot about a person, or a people for that matter, by how they respond the tragedy, suffering and crisis. As they climbed from the rubble of their lives…many of them left with nothing but the cloths on their back…they were at first stunned I’m sure, shocked, wounded, but they’ve exhibited a resilience and timbre that is admirable. They exhibit thankfulness for the right things…things we take for granted every day…for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Many are good, God-fearing Americans…regular Joes who have had a tragedy inflicted upon them by the fickleness of Mother Nature. I would be proud to call them neighbor…they are the backbone of what makes up America.

And, they need our help. We Americans are generous people…we helped and poured out aid and comfort to those in need after the giant Tsunami and after Katrina. Well, now our neighbors in the heartland of America need our help…and I will help my neighbor…

Two of my favorite charities that help the people in times of disaster:

Samaritan’s Purse:

American Red Cross:

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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