Thursday, August 20, 2009

the word on the street

Tornado touches down in Williamsville...the latest breaking news:
People are grateful.

How's that for a headline- think many folks would read it? Nah, me either..but it's true.

Here's the story from one roving reporter-(me)

Jill: Do you think it's a tornado?

Me: Ahhh, I'd have to look, but it sure sounds like some thing's brewing.

Jill: (opening the back door to the cafe)Ha...that's scary looking, let's take cover...

About that time, the power went off, the dark got darker and we were heading for shelter on an inside wall along with Hannah and Justin. The noise was such that we could not hear one another...but only for a matter of seconds. And then, complete calm and silence - the kind where everyone just looks at each other without saying a word...intuitively understanding that the scene outside has changed.

As we stepped timidly at first, out the front door (we were battered all to heck the last time we stuck our head out..) Jill exclaimed how fresh the air seemed. Like we could smell pine and clean air all of sudden.

Jill: Smell that? It's so fresh... (as she gazed out to the grain elevator that was still standing, the sun just coming out and that pine smell- it really was something to acknowledge, like the storm had pushed away all the foul smells that had built up in the summer heat.

Hannah: Mom, you're crazy! Look, the signs are down!

Justin: I'll go pick them up...

And only then did we realize, with our gaze turned eastward- trees were down,electric lines down, people began moving out into the street, the post-mistress who usually has the low down on the upside a good 15 minute before everyone else does, looked bewildered.

Branches, entire trees, trampolines, horse trailers, corn stalks, wooden signs, metal signs, lamp posts, upturned pickups, roofs, bricks scattered just seconds lives were rearranged and the spontaneity of mother nature made everyone present in a moment of absolute clarity. Gratefulness was the word on the street.

Jill and I wandered up the boulevard, towards the gas station- moving limbs and debris out of the roadway, we had to do something. Customers from Caseys, who had barely made it into the shelter of a walk in cooler- were standing, shaken to the core and thankful to be alive. Three young men from the local coal mine, who had just been hired on were very vocal. Judging from their stories and the two ladies who were aided by these young men- it's very likely that these guys saved some lives, not taking no for an answer when they forcibly encouraged everyone inside- NOW! One lady was physically dragged in. She was beyond thankful, if it had not been for their concern- she would have been under the rubble that her car lay mangled beneath.

Jill decided, with all the emergency workers and displaced residents and everyone without electricity- that she could provide food and drinks if a generator could be obtained. It was finally realized that no one could get into Williamsville- so a generator was out of the question, all food was taken to the community center, tables were set up and our kids began to make sandwiches and soups and salads, setting everything up for the locals and the workers to have easy access to.

Five kids, ages seven to nineteen worked a mess kitchen up in moments. Amazing really, why they felt the need to help at all...but there they were doing their darnedest to make things right. A certain volunteer group showed up and things started getting messy- as in they had chicken salad all over their faces, and demanded that the kids make more sandwiches. Turkey was sliced, more bread was obtained, ham and Swiss and everything they could muster to keep up with the stream of people coming in. And the "volunteers" got pretty ugly with the kids when, apparently- they weren't working up to speed or providing enough sandwiches in a timely fashion for this "volunteer" group that had showed up to help out in disaster situations. "They" were to bring comfort, Lily supposed- but what they were doing was seeking comfort for themselves...sitting in the chairs meant for the residents who had lost everything, eating up the sandwiches that the BluCat had provided for those in need, and basically being a hindrance to the hands that were working on behalf of those misplaced by a sudden storm.

Makes you wonder about protocol and maybe people ought to just do the right thing for the right reason, without strapping on a vest with an emblem and just showing up to say "we're here to help!" Actions speak louder than words, and those folks with the vests- their actions were seen by young eyes who no longer believe in their symbol. Thank goodness, after much conversation-the kids do believe in themselves and the calling they felt within to just simply help out in any way they could...and did.

I suspect the day to come will be one of many hands working on behalf of their neighbors, I've already been called to show up with a chainsaw. I'll be heading to the cafe first, cleaning and getting ready to serve whoever whatever the need calls for.

And I have no photos, didn't seem right. All I did was listen, seems like that was what most folks needed...just to be heard and hugged. Hope there's alot of that going around today...

Take care-


troutbirder said...

You didn't mention anyone being seriously injured. I hope that's the case thank God. You were all very lucky.

katales said...

According to the news, no one was seriously injured/killed. Thank God for that! I've been watching the TV reports and see that the physical damage to Williamsville is truly terrible. Why am I not the least bit surprised that you are out there making sandwiches, swinging a chain saw and helping in any way that you can? Bless you and the kids and the others who are out there cleaning up, working, feeding.......doing what needs to be done. I confess, my very first thought was of the Blucat and Beauregard's. So glad you are safe and well.

Anonymous said...

I saw this on the news today! We were out of power for about twelve hours 5pm-5am. I'm glad you guys are all alright!

Love, Rhi

Jayne said...

Holy cow... how very scary. So glad you all were OK and that people took shelter.

truewonder said...

You said it TB. There were no serious phsical injurys- a broken leg, lacerations, a motorcyclist suffered back injuries...although the elders who lost their homes- I worry about them. Young people, as devestating as it can be to have to rebuild- can and do readily rebuild. But several of the homes that were lost belonged to folks who had lived there most of their lives. Raised their families there, grew old there, photos, memoribilia- gone with the wind as they say. For them, much tenderness and ?? is needed. I heard people saying to them, Just be thankful you're alive...(yes that is true-but such a dismissive remark), but imagine only wanting someone to understand how you feel, how you want to sob- and be told by someone hi and dry with a home to go to- be glad. AARRRGGGHHH!

Sarah said...

That same group of "volunteers" pulled the same stunt when those two houses burned down in Elkhart. The neighbors were taking care of the families, but The Group thought it wasn't enough or the right kind, or not sanctioned properly or some other lame-brained idea. Go figure! Glad you made it thru unscathed. We lost power and didn't even know a tornado was in the area. We just sat placidly in the living room, crocheting, talking to the kids and each other, unaware of the destruction around us, until the phone started ringing off the hook. We'll be stopping over for dinner sometime soon. The burger was excellent and J and the kids loved the horseshoes.