In my life I experienced two major disasters. The most recent one was in 2008 when Cedar Rapids, Iowa was hit by major flooding, forcing 25,000 to go homeless. Another natural event also had affected the lives of many around me when I was 10 years old.
I had just finished playing in a little league baseball game on June 3rd, 1980. I was biking home. It was very windy out and by the time I arrived home the tornado sirens went off. It was about 845pm that night. In a nutshell, the tornadoes killed 5 people, and caused about $300 million in damages at the time, which that same amount adjusted for inflation would be much higher now.
Seven different tornadoes hit my city of Grand Island, Nebraska. At the time it had about 33,000 living there. This all happened within about a 3 hour time frame. I will never forget just sitting in the basement the entire time, and seeing my dog whine a bit and lower her tail. She obviously knew something wasn’t right.
It was an uneasy feeling after the 3 hours when they gave everything the clear because you weren’t sure if it was really safe to go to bed wondering if more tornadoes would touch down. Strange the next day to get up and you can smell the debris, and to see most everything flattened in my area of the town, which was the southeast side, the hardest hit area. There was even a moment where two tornadoes were going doing South Locust side by side to each other raking up things as they went south.
We had to rely upon the Red Cross for food. We didn’t have electricity for a few days. I will never forget what happened, and seeing how people recover from losing everything they had, or most everything, including loved ones. One man died because he got on top of someone he cared about to protect them, and the beam from above landed on him, but the person below him survived.
Experiences like this and seeing how people never gave up inspire me to always keep trying, even if things look really bad, and I hope that others in life will do the same. A few pics from the tornadoes, and also a picture of me (below) when we had to take showers outside. We had a water well in the backyard, so we were fortunate in that aspect. Our home was partly damaged. The roof had to be replaced, and our detached garage was destroyed.
The picture of the brick building in the lower left corner was my elementary school at the time. Link to photo below: http://www.nebraskaweatherphotos.org/giphoto1.html
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