Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
This was an especially somber Memorial Day weekend. Of course, this was the time to pause and think about those military men and women who lost their lives in the service of their country. That alone is enough to give us pause, to think. But in the midst of an otherwise nice holiday weekend, disaster struck several communities, particularly Coon Rapids and Hugo. That same storm swooped through Kimball, South Haven, and Annandale on its way northeastward. We got hit by wind, rain, and golf-ball-sized hail. As it turns out, though, we got off easy. Perhaps it's because I have new newspaper friends in Hugo, I've paid particular attention to the tornado devastation in that relatively small community. Perhaps it's also because I'm involved in the Comprehensive Plan steering committee for Kimball, and on the emergency preparedness committee for the Kimball area. With every video and photo I see of the Hugo disaster area, I see the potential for our area of something similar. No, I'm not a pessimist by nature. It's just that I can easily see my family, friends, and neighbors in a similar situation, if a tornado (or other disaster) were to hit here. What is most frightening to me is that the whole tornado experience in Hugo lasted a mere 30 seconds. From the time the weather sirens sounded, people there had about two or three minutes to get to safety. But when the whole house is blown away, the word "safety" doesn't mean so much. I encourage you to see yourself and your family and neighbors in the place of our Hugo brothers and sisters. Think now about where you would go in the event of a tornado. Do you have supplies for a few hours, or a few days, until help can get to you? Does everyone in your family know the plan? Do you rehearse the plan, so you can follow it even in the middle of the night? It's not asking for trouble to think about it ahead of time. It's the smart thing to do, not just for you and your family but for the whole community. As important as planning is doing. Heed the warnings, carry out your plan. Be thankful when it's a false warning, but be prepared just in case. Another thing you can do now: acknowledge and appreciate what is truly important in your life. It's not your house, or car, or boat, or other "stuff". That can all go in a matter of seconds. It is the people in our lives that matter. Savor those relationships today, and fully, as none of us is guaranteed another chance tomorrow. If you would like to help the Hugo families affected by the tornado, you can donate to the Red Cross, (612) 460-3700 or www.redcrosstc.org, or the Salvation Army, (800) SAL-ARMY.