Tuesday, April 28, 2009


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.


M@ said...

Mena has a college!? Man, sorry to hear about everyone's troubles....

Junebug said...

I'm so sorry about Mena. We just discovered last year how beautiful it was when we went four-wheeling there. We visited again spring break and all was well. Now I hate to think what it looks like. All those missing trees will never be the same. We had an F5 tornado come through near us a few years ago. The landscape never again looked the same in some places. You can still see the remains of those missing trees. So sad.

Pamela said...

a year ago January we had a wind storm that felled trees -- hundreds on one golf course -- hundreds in the park and riparian area where I walk.

I feel your pain.

It's like years of beauty just gone.

Of course -- we only had roofs damaged -- not whole houses blown to bits.

Spellbound said...

When Gaston hit Richmond a few years back we lost thousands of ancient trees, many roads washed away stranding people in their homes, and our dam breached draining the 27 acer lake in our back yard.
It;s amazing how short our memories are as long as our loved ones survive. I am grateful that you are recovering my dear.

BTW, Any chance you can come to VA for our blog party May 16?

Karmyn R said...

I'm glad you posted this. I was wondering how Mena was doing. It is easy to forget when the news stops posting pictures. So much devastation.

Tiggerlane said...

M@ - a wonderful community college - we DO have educated folks here!

Junebug - at least there are some areas where you can't tell a single thing happened, so you can avoid most of the traumatic scenes.

Pamela - there's so much that will take decades to regrow - houses can be rebuilt, but the trees take forever.

Spellbound - I would SO LOVE to attend - I desperately need to get away! But have to pass this time - I will plan a trip to the area before the year is up. I need it!

Karmyn R - thanks, and yes - it's been 20 days, and yet so much is still unchanged.

Desert Songbird said...

I just (a few minutes ago) read an article about Greensburg, KS that was devastated by a tornado in 2007; they are rebuilding the entire town on a "green concept" and installing wind and solar energy transformers and large buildings are being built using solid concrete.

Your town can and will rebuild and be stronger than ever. Have faith! And, I am very, very grateful that you and yours are safe.

Kila said...

We've had similar devastation here in years past.

It's so hard to lose those grand, irreplaceable trees.

Your town will look much different, rebuilt, a year from now. Hang in there.

As for FEMA, ugh. They "helped" our city last year. Seriously, it isn't worth the trouble, sorry.

Moi said...

You said it best-gut wrenching. I'm glad that most everyone was safe though.

turnerBroadcasting said...

tiggerlane I hope things get better for you out there.
you really got hit.

good luck.

Tiggerlane said...

Desert Songbird - thank you...and I am SO hoping that our town can rebuild. I think the perserverance is in the people, if they don't get frustrated at how long it's gonna take!

Kila - I made application, and looking at what we qualify for, I'm in agreement with your FEMA assessment.

Moi - thank you, and yes, I'm trying to focus on that fact...

turnerBroadcasting - we sure did...trying to stay positive!

Occidental Girl said...

I can't believe it either! I'm so sorry for your town and the losses to so many. Glad you are okay.