Lightning flashes streaking across the sky eerily lighting the night. The wind blows swaying the tree limbs whistling as the rain beats intermittently in rhythm against the wall outside the window.
The sounds and sights beckon the opening scene of a television mystery or an old black and white horror film.
No matter how once I saw these innocently as set ups for a good book or a story yet to be told on the screen, the fear they are meant to evoke in fiction, is even greater to me these past three years.
I think that would be true of anyone who has survived a major weather calamity such as a tornado or hurricane.
Three years ago my small town of Ringgold, Ga. was one of many Southern communities that underwent a massive night of tornadoes that changed the face of our town and reached into the lives of hundreds of families as they worked to overcome the devastation of property, loss of life, and the changes brought by the wind.
As I sit and type tonight, I do see the things mentioned above outside my window. On the television, the meteorologists are watching closely trying to predict the impact of a new series of storm systems coming through the area. Ironically, this is one day after the April 27 anniversary of the tornado, bringing yet a little more emphasis and attention because of its timing. Tornadoes have ripped through other communities tonight in Mississippi and Arkansas.
As I sit here, I realize that I will never quite look at storms the same way. I think now of those in its path; the emergency workers that respond to its wake; and the endless hours put in by workers and volunteers to initially search for and assist those affected. Then they begin the clean up the aftermath. Then comes the rebuilding. First hours, then days, weeks, months and finally year will pass.
I wish that I could give a magic wand which could wave away all the issues, but the only thing that I can offer are the prayers that all will be safe when facing storms.
I urge families to prepare for emergencies by having an emergency kit in their home with things that are needed – this means having enough food, water and other supplies such as prescription medicines for 72 hours.
Other items needed are battery-powered or hand crank radio, flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, whistle, dust mask, plastic sheeting, duct tape, moist towelettes, garbage bags, plastic ties, wrench and pliers, manual can opener, local maps, cell phone with solar charger.
Please pay attention to warnings and when advised to seek shelter, do so.
As someone who has been through it, there is light after the darkness. Survivors will be able to find a new normal in time. Buildings will be rebuilt. Things will be replaced.
The hardest part is the mourning that comes with the losses – losses of friends and family, and the places that we consider part of our lives and the history we hold dear.
If you are in such a situation, remember everyone around you is there too. You are all in the same boat, so the best way to keep afloat initially is to help each other.
May the Lord bless and keep us all!