Life is Music May 21, 2013 edition: Oklahoma City tornado recovery resources

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song.

Seems like this is another week where I’m left writing about a story that I wish I didn’t have to talk about. The good thing is this week’s disaster wasn’t a deliberate act of human hatred; the bad is that natural disasters can leave just as tragic a mess in their wake.

As of when I’m writing this, 91 people are reported to have died. Just a few hours ago, that number stood at about 50. By the time you see this, it will probably be an even higher statistic.

Having lived the vast majority of my life on the east coast, tornadoes were for a long time very foreign to me. I knew of the movie Twister. I had seen photos of them happening; a 400×600 pixel .jpg cannot do justice to the sheer power of a real tornado touching land. I heard stories of one passing through my college alma mater, but any aftermath of the minimal damage had been fixed long before I arrived.

Then, last year, I served with AmeriCorps NCCC. Part of my service took me to Henryville, Indiana, a town that is now a year into recovery efforts that will likely be ongoing for the better part of the decade. The town, along with neighboring towns that were in the unavoidable path of destruction, was completely leveled by a vicious tornado in March 2012.

It’s strange to see the aftermath of such destruction up close. To me, hurricanes were expected, but tornadoes were once so foreign. They leave a very specific, and very brutal, type of damage in their wake. Survivors of storms like this can be left with post-traumatic stress disorder, just like someone returning from war can experience it.

Unless I ever have to live through a natural disaster, I can never know the terror felt by everyone in that Oklahoma City suburb last night. I can never know the loss felt by families in Henryville who lost a doublewide trailer, the only home they knew, as they huddled in shacks and hoped for their lives to be spared by the storm.

What I can know, and what I did learn, is the strength people have inside them to rebuild. People will mourn; we will have ups and downs. Some will never recover from the mental stress; others will immediately run outside once the storm has passed to look for neighbors in need. Communities can and do band together with solidarity they didn’t know they could posses.

Moore will recover, just as will Henryville, and Joplin, and other communities affected by disaster natural and otherwise, at home and abroad. The communities have a support system within themselves, an inevitable bond with each other, and solidarity from others who can only empathize from afar.

It’s going to be a long, long road. But the survivors will rebuild, move on, and become stronger as a result.

Resources:
The City of Moore Recovers
All-encompassing list of immediate needs, shelters, emergency services and more
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Feed the Children

En español
Red Cross
Moore Oklahoma Tornado Info Facebook
Resources for pets and animals

Edit: At this time the death toll has been revised and lowered to 24. Here’s hoping it stays down.

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