Tricounty News

Sharing in tragedy and need

Our fellow Midwesterners, less than a day’s drive from here, are suffering incredible tragedy after a massive tornado destroyed much of Moore, Okla., and claimed two dozen lives. 

Television news and the internet are filled with the inhumanity of the destruction. Homes totally ripped away as families huddle for safety in storm cellars. Other homes and buildings flattened like so many Tinker Toys. Cars and trucks tossed and smashed as if they were, well, toys too. The landscape simply flattened and devoid of trees or buildings, anything much above ground level.

But we see plenty of the humanity of it all, too. People helping neighbors, doing absolutely anything they can. The joy of a pet owner reunited with the loved one they had feared was lost. Donations pouring in even as the rain is still falling.

We have had a few tornado (or cyclone, as they were called back in the day) touch-downs in our area. But it’s been awhile.

I pray that no one reading this now will ever be tested in the way that Moore, Okla., has been tested this week.

I pray none of us is tested with any natural disaster.

We can learn from the tragedy, though, to let some good come from such unfathomable bad.

1) Take Mother Nature seriously. She means business, and us mere mortals are no match for her … ever. This past nearly-never-ending winter should prove to us again that we have no control over the weather. We choose to live here. We should accept it.

2) There’s no substitute for preparation and planning. It’s not by chance that schools have tornado drills. Or, for those of you old enough, the “duck and cover” drills of the Cold War era. Now, I truly doubt that ducking and covering in the hallway of a school would have saved any of us from a nuclear attack by the Russians. But we felt prepared, and safe.

We can be prepared at home and at work, too. Where is the safest spot in the event of a tornado, or chemical spill, or lengthy power outage? Disasters can occur at any time of day or night, after all.


When was the last time you went down in the basement for a possible tornado? Members of my family who didn’t grow up in Minnesota think I’m nuts when I make them go into the basement. I think I’m prudent.

Having a location to go to is only part of the preparation. Do you have a supply of food and water there? What about medications, sanitary and cleaning supplies? Keep in mind all the members of your family, including pets.

I will admit that, even after living in “earthquake country” for 17 years, I’m not nearly as prepared as I should be. I think about it, but thinking doesn’t make it so.

At the very least, every home should have an “emergency packet” with essential documents, some cash, and critical medications; something you can grab in a real emergency, either as you leave your house, or as you go down into the basement for safety.

The Red Cross and others have helpful information online to help prepare for emergencies.

4) Be ready and willing to help others when needed. We don’t need to be reminded of this, we do it every day (although usually at a much less critical level).

Whether in a disaster or not, we’re all in this together. And none of us is getting out alive (to paraphrase).  I dare say that every one of us would help in the event of a true disaster or a critical situation.

What I fear is the less-than-wholehearted assistance and cooperation when there is no emergency facing us. All too often I hear, “Someone [else] will do it,” or, “It will get done [without me].” Perhaps we’re all too busy living our own lives (with an emphasis on “too busy”). Or maybe we’ve been gung ho for too long and we’re spent, exhausted, burnt out.

This really is fodder for another column entirely, but it’s something that’s been pressing on my mind a lot lately; the current devastation in Oklahoma only sharpened the point. 

“Never tire of doing good,” is what the Bible tells us. I pray that we all can live up to that. Regardless of being busy, or tired, or feeling unappreciated.