Every time storms, including the frightening side effect of tornadoes, rip through North Carolina – and anywhere else for that matter – there are stories of injury and tragedy, of miracle misses, of barns destroyed and livestock spared, and of amazing good fortune, such as people being away from their homes when high winds struck.
It was no different Wednesday, when a wide swath of North Carolina braced for an early taste of tornado season. The National Weather Service office in Raleigh issued 21 tornado warnings across central North Carolina. A tornado touched down in Oxford, damaging homes and barn silos, but miraculously no one was hurt.
Overall, the human toll was relatively slight, though some unfortunate souls had property destroyed. But early warnings and effective weather tracking are blessings beyond measure these days. People are told to go to sturdy places, to shield themselves in the core of their homes, to stay away from windows. Time was, the cautions were issued late and forecasts were uncertain.
We’re reminded in such times of nature’s fury, the power that is far out of our control, the destruction that seems so unfairly random: Why this house and not the one down the street? Why did this good family lose everything?
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The locomotive winds carry no answer and follow no logic. Tornadoes are indiscriminate in their attacks.
But in the storms and their aftermath, there are reminders that for all the fury of nature, there is in human nature much goodness and kindness and generosity.
On Thursday morning, neighbor was helping neighbor – clearing trees, gathering scattered possessions, figuring ways to expedite insurance claims for a car now beneath a tree, comforting children with promises of toys to be replaced. Yes, people rally ’round one another in such times, and these kindnesses will never be forgotten. Paying it forward, the expression goes, and in storms to come – and they surely will come – those who were grateful for the help they received this time will go the distance to help others.
The dark clouds of midweek were replaced by sun and brisk winds. But the season of vulnerability to tornadoes is really still to come. They’re defined as nature’s most violent storms, spurred by thunderstorms. North Carolina has often endured the incredible destruction a tornado can cause in a few minutes. The attack on central Raleigh in 2011 is fresh in the minds of many. Other states along Tornado Alley are even more vulnerable.
In the aftermath of a storm that was not as destructive as feared, people do well to prepare as if the next storm might be far worse: store some supplies for power outages, plot an escape in advance of the storm, pick a safe haven, keep phone numbers of emergency workers and family members close by, make a list of do’s and don’ts in the event of a tornado.
And after a storm, once that sigh of relief is breathed, go find those who were cursed by destruction and help them or their families recover. It’s all one can do – but it is a lot.