I know it's been a while, friends...but it's been a hectic few weeks here in Mena, Arkansas. Even though I can "forget" what happened on April 9th by going to work (where my office is perfectly intact) or to my new home (where every tree limb is perfectly in place), it only takes a short drive thru the middle of town to see absolute devastation. I know I'm fortunate, and I'm not living the true nightmare that others are experiencing, but I still feel an immediate wrenching in my gut when I drive thru areas like this:
This photo was taken by Jim Zornes, the Forest Service Ranger for our district. It gives you a small snapshot of what happened in our little town of 5,600. The F-3 tornado traveled approximately 14.5 miles, with winds ranging between 135-165 MPH. I'm still amazed that so many survived.
Our little house on Ninth Street just isn't the same - and sustained some roof damage. Unfortunately, we were on a waiting list to have the roof replaced for hail damage - so no additional monies for us. It was heartbreaking to see the big beautiful trees, all gone.I never considered myself a "tree-hugger" - but this area lost some of the oldest, grandest trees in town. It makes me sad how our landscape has changed. I can't look at the skyline the same - you can see for blocks and blocks, where before you could only see a few houses down the street. Now, there are roots and bare earth and utility trucks and demolished homes.
This is our back yard tree - it crashed into our shed. We were so fortunate...I just can't believe we didn't suffer more devastation. Others were not so fortunate - they lost everything. So many were uninsured...or underinsured. Some lost their home, their vehicles and their possesions, all in one fell swoop. Our middle school is now uninhabitable, including the auditorium that was used by the entire community for all sorts of performances throughout the years. The college was extensively damaged....it's all so overwhelming. Thankfully, we got word that we will be receiving assistance from FEMA.
I can't describe how bizarre it is to drive thru areas of our town. I cry. I weep for those who have lost so much. I gaze in disbelief at the changed landscape. I can't believe things are so "out of whack," only two and a half weeks since the tragedy. Some told me that their towns suffered for almost five years, before things were "normal" again. I'm ready now. I'm impatient.
But I'm blessed.