Saturday, April 11, 2009

it [was] a twista! it [was] a twista!

For those who haven’t heard, a tornado touched down in Murfreesboro yesterday. I’m ok, all of my friends are ok, and I don’t personally know anyone who had any major property damage from the tornado. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the entire city.

While I don’t personally know anyone who was physically affected by the tornado, I haven’t encountered anyone from here who wasn’t affected by the storm’s fury in some way or another. I’d like to say that before yesterday, I’d think that I felt for those who had gone through natural disasters and understand how rough it could be. I think most Americans are that way. But when a disaster tears up an area (regardless of it being a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or typhoon), the affects are far-reaching.

The buzz since the storm has been about the tornado. “How are you? Where were you when it hit? Are you and those you know OK?” are the questions that start conversations. Chaos reigned for a very brief period leading to a lot of “they say,” “I heard,” and other forms of speculation. I can only speak from my own perspective. In fact, when the storm hit I was in a stairwell closet with twin six-year old boys, a four-year old girl, and a one-year-old that was ready for a nap. They were more irritated that I broke up playtime. Imagination works wonders in a 5x8 foot crawl space. In the meantime, the tornado touched down in Murfreesboro.

The tornado ripped through Stones River National Battlefield and the effects on the landscape still remain. I was scheduled to work today, mostly just so I could work on wrapping up the new Junior Ranger program before publishing. That had to be put on the back burner as we tried to make order out of the chaos. I am also scheduled to work tomorrow, but specifically because of tornado-relatedness (I wasn’t originally scheduled to work on Easter). The battlefield was closed today and will be for a while. The visitor center was closed as well, but we hope to reopen it tomorrow at noon. Unfortunately, we don’t know when we will be able to open the tour road or the trails. The boundary trail may not even open before the end of summer. Any natural resource or maintenance projects planned for the summer have been scratched in lieu of all the clean up and removal that will have to take place.

Walking around the battlefield today impressed upon me the power of the storm. We’ve begun to pile debris in order to clear it out. The “stuff” of the piles ranges from pieces of houses, stuffed animals, clothes, broken china, and other evidences of peoples lives that have been torn up. Those piles literally represent some of the lives around Murfreesboro.

Life will continue to move forward and most of the country will forget about this event (that is if they even heard about it in the first place!). Those in Murfreesboro will remember for several months, years even. Some may only remember because of the evidence that the storm left behind. Some will remember because of the effects upon their lives. I personally appreciate the reminder about how we can’t control everything. And we can make plans, but those are also often out of our control. I also have a much healthier respect for the weather (and weather reports). No joke.

(For the record, I am writing this in a word document and will post it whenever I get a chance... our internet was knocked out).

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