I’ve lived in the Midwest, and I’ve lived on the East Coast, and consider myself blessed that I have never been personally affected by either a tornado or a hurricane. I’ve been close enough, though, to have a deep respect for both. When I was a kid, my Uncle Jack’s family lost their home, as many others did, during what became known as the Super Outbreak of April 1974. My Aunt Edith and cousin Jo Anne had only a few moment’s notice, and were still on the basement steps when the tornado started ripping their house apart. The only thing left standing was the shower pipe – I’ll never forget that; the shower head was still on the end of it. Every house on their side of the street sustained at least moderate damage. The worst damage on the other side of the street was a broken window. It’s curious what a tornado will leave and what it will take.
The closest I ever came to a hurricane was being at sea on a Trident submarine during Hurricane Hugo. We had just commissioned USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735) earlier that month, and, embarrassingly, ran aground just off Port Canaveral, Florida. Turns out, the sandbars just off the coast had been shifted, and the channel re-formed, by Hugo’s might. That’s WAY more power than it takes to destroy a house. Or a neighborhood. Oh, and it wasn’t even a direct hit: Hugo’s landfall was in Charleston, South Carolina, some 400 miles to the north. If there’s a nice thing about hurricanes, it’s that you get a few days’ notice that they’re coming. But that’s the only nice thing you can say about a hurricane.
The devastation of Joplin, Missouri, by a lone tornado on Sunday evening, has me thinking of my Uncle’s family’s loss of their home, and how lucky they were to have all escaped personal injury. I looked around my basement last night, and realized that yes, I had most of the basic components of a Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Kit (which covers a variety of calamities, but sounds like a lot more fun to put together – thanks, Brian Farno!), but no; they’re not all in one place. I don’t want to try and assemble them after the fact, possibly in the dark, maybe out of dire necessity. So that’s our Family Friday Fun project this week. And it’s long overdue.
Dear reader, I hope this finds you adequately prepared, but if not, I hope that I’ve at least inspired you to awareness, and sparked a sense of urgency to get prepared. Consider the fine folks of Joplin…there, but for the grace of God, go I (and you.)
While we are indeed considering the fine folks of Joplin, I encourage you to keep them in your thoughts or prayers as your custom dictates. If you feel called to help, there certainly are needs, and opportunities to do so. My personal favorites are the American Red Cross and UMCOR. The American Red Cross, with their experience and resources, is immensely effective on the scene, and UMCOR, because of their affiliation structure, is able to channel 100% of your donations directly to those in need.
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