Sunday, July 8, 2012

It started with a big, ugly wind...

Tornado at Borden, IN. Photo by Josh Abelove.

On March 2nd 2012, a series of tornadoes ripped through the countryside of Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky. The toll was was heartbreaking, and among those affected were some church-choir friends of mine and my husband's. Their farm was hit - thankfully, neither they nor their family were injured. Their homes were battered but still standing, but their barns were destroyed, fences and trees downed, and their herd of alpaca and llamas were scattered.

The following Saturday, my husband and I went with a church group to help with some cleanup. We found their small town almost leveled, with a snarl of debris piled high to either side of the road leading through town. Blue tarps were draped over almost every remaining roof, heavy equipment was everywhere, and on several street corners stood canvas pavilions stocked with water, food, and cleanup supplies. It looked like a war zone.

As we drove slowly through the heavy, carefully-moving traffic, I saw that the Tide "Loads of Hope" laundry station was in full swing, and trucks were pulled up to one of the local churches to unload case after case of apple juice, water, and other supplies. The smell of smoke hung faintly in the air, from burn piles on surrounding farms. Chaos reigned - but a closer look showed that Order was slowly beginning to make headway against it.

At the farm, the herd had been rounded up into some temporary pasturage. One llama had been lost to the storm; miraculously, all the other animals had survived and gathered at the fence to watch us as we walked to our work stations. My husband was on a crew to start (safely) dismantling a barn, and I found my way to the back hay field, to take my place in a line of volunteers who were combing every inch of the field for debris. If  a llama shouldn't be eating it, we did our best to find it and pick it up. Any photographs or other important-looking items were to be set aside, so that maybe they could be returned to whoever lost them.

The barn where my husband went to help.

 It was a long, exhausting day - but we knew that we could go back to our warm, dry homes and go on with our normal lives at the end of it. Our friends, however, had a long, long road ahead of them to get back to anything remotely resembling normal.

A total of 80 volunteers showed up at the farm, the day we were there. Earlier that week, a surprise busload of 50 - complete strangers from a national ministry - had just appeared to help.

Members of our church brought food and served lunch for everyone, and the Little Caesar's Pizza shop in town showed up with stacks of fresh, hot pizza. When we hit the hayfield again after lunch, a lady and her two children stepped over the back fence to bring us water, Gatorade, and granola bars.

It's a day I won't be forgetting any time soon.

And what in the world does this disaster have to do with creativity? If you and I have already "met" online or in Real Life, you already know the answer.

 If not... To Be Continued. :-)

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