when tornadoes hit home

24 02 2007

I’m one of those people who finds weather really interesting.  It’s fascinating to consider the power and majesty of lightning (and the resulting thunder), tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.  While in high school I even considered becoming a meteorologist or storm chaser.  (Some of my family joked that I could be the next Ned Perme, a weatherman for the state who also plays piano specials sometimes, particularly at Christmas.  But I digress…)

Today I was watching the storms that progressed through my state, and there were some really interesting thunderstorms forming.  In the afternoon, isolated supercells started forming in the southeastern part of Arkansas.  This was interesting, although there was an added twist — that’s where my family lives.  That fact made it not so exciting.  Two tornadoes touched down in my hometown, destroying large parts of it.  The same storm then proceeded to go directly over the area where my parents now live.  Adding to the drama was the fact that my mom was out of town, but the town she was in got hit by a storm with lots of rotation, and her drive back home went through my hometown, which kept getting hit by storms with tornadoes.  And for four hours we were unable to make contact with her.  She has a cell phone, but coverage in that area of the state is poor (and even non-existent in certain areas), and today the network kept getting overloaded.

Most of us have seen interruptions on network TV where the local weatherman tells about a tornado warning in some part of the state.  To some of us, the storm is exciting, while to others it’s a bother because it’s interrupting the regularly scheduled programming.  But today it was much different.  It was more than just news or an interruption — it was live news about people’s lives being impacted in a major way.  All severe storms are like that, but today my perspective was different because it really hit home.

When the TV station got their news crew down there to film the damage, it impacted me differently than normal.  I saw businesses destroyed that will greatly hurt the town — the old Walmart building was almost completely destroyed, which is where Fred’s was.  The Mad Butcher grocery store was completely decimated — you couldn’t even tell what it was.  The nicest restaurant in town was levelled.  And what’s even worse — many houses were destroyed.  Someone reported that the tornado was up to half a mile wide and travelled about 5 miles.  This happened at 3:15 today.  Then another tornado went through at 4:15, but fortunately it didn’t do as much damage.

The impact of the destruction really hit me, because it was places where I used to ride my bicycle, and where my mom still gets groceries sometimes.  I know people who are impacted by today’s storms.  Fortunately all my family made it through, but this is something that will impact them for a long time.

Today’s events helped me realize the significance of news like this, even when it’s in areas I’m not familiar with.  Of course I always knew it was a big deal, but I didn’t always think of the people who it was affecting.  There are people watching who are hanging on every word, looking for hope and good news, praying that their family was spared from the tragedy.  Perhaps going through this will make me more compassionate toward people who are in similar situations, even if I don’t know anyone involved.

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8 responses

26 02 2007
Beppo

Here’s some more info about Saturday’s tornadoes in Dumas, AR. It was an F-3 tornado, and the second was a funnel cloud that apparently didn’t do any damage. A third of the town’s businesses were destroyed, resulting in 800 jobs lost. The town has been declared a disaster area, with the damage in the millions of dollars. It was estimated to take three to five days to get the power restored. Also, the town’s drinking water was polluted, so local authorities told residents to boil the water before using it. Some people reported seeing cars in trees, which gives you an idea of the strength of the tornado.

You can see some pictures of the devastation here.

26 02 2007
B-Day girl

Fortunately, there were NO casualties. 40 or so people hurt, but no one died, and for that we are thankful. I don’t know anyone personally in that area, but it could just as easily been here…..

1 03 2007
Beppo

Someone sent me the link to a blogger who took some pictures of Dumas the day after the F-3 tornado swept through town.  On that page there is a link to a lot more images (including some larger pictures) of the damage to Dumas, AR.

It’s weird to see all this.  The baseball field I used to play on, stores I used to go to, Sonic, places I used to ride my bicycle, etc., all destroyed.  The town will never be the same again.

2 03 2007
Kri'

I can’t imagine what it must feel like looking through those pics…

4 03 2007
Dabo

Many times we(humans) have to “experience” or be a part of life’s tragic events to get a true perception/understanding of what takes place, is involved, and who/what is affected. No one likes to experience bad things, but afterwards we can/should have the ability to sympathize for others that go through similar things. Many times that experience enables people to help others in times when they need it most. Many people know of these things, but you know, sometimes it just needs to be said and we all need to be reminded from time to time.

12 03 2007
Beppo’s Blog » Blog Archive » saved from a tornado

[…] Recently I wrote about the F3 tornado that hit my hometown of Dumas, and today someone forwarded me an article about an evangelist who was driving through that area at the time it was happening.  Supposedly this article is from the Log Cabin Democrat newspaper, but I couldn’t find it.  (If anyone has a link to it, let me know and I’ll include it.)  Anyway, it’s a really neat story. God’s hand held me against the wall By Dr. Travis Plumlee […]

16 03 2007
Beppo

Here’s some more photos of the destruction caused by the tornado in Dumas recently.

I finally saw a picture of what happened to the restaurant that my family was going to be at that night : Butch’s steak house. It didn’t fare well.

Lastly, here’s a couple of stories from people who witnessed the tornado first-hand.

17 04 2007
Beppo

I’ve heard stories about people looting the damaged stores and homes in Dumas right after the tornado went through. That is horrible! At a time when people need to work together to help each other survive and get restarted on living a normal life, some people are taking advantage of the tragedy and making matters worse.

From what I heard, most people did help each other and work together, but it’s a shame that some people had no respect for other people or their property. It shouldn’t be too surprising, though, because the same thing happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But I wonder, if these people will steal during a time of crisis, won’t they also steal at other times?

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