Another tornado hit another familiar town.
We were in Arkansas for a wedding the weekend of April 12-14. Storms had been in the forecast for the Southeast for a week.
Late Saturday night, April 13, we learned a tornado had struck Hamilton (Mississippi).
Pam immediately started trying to check on friends of ours who reside in that area.
We lived in Aberdeen for eight years (1991 to 1999) and the small town of Hamilton is near, about halfway between Aberdeen and Columbus.
All of our friends were OK.
One man died when a tree smashed through his mobile home. There were a lot of downed trees and damage throughout the area.
And over the next few days we saw our friends swinging into action and pulling together to help those in need.
Meals were being prepared. Basic necessities were being provided. There was assistance with supplies and clean-up.
It was very familiar.
Just a little more than three years ago, December 23, 2015, our town, Holly Springs, was going through the same thing.
We were pulling together to pick up the pieces following a tornado, and we were receiving assistance from our friends and neighbors and from good folks from other places we’ve never seen in our lives.
I first experienced a tornado on April 3, 1974. I was huddled in a small storm cellar just a few miles from Guin, Ala. On that terrible night, the small town in Marion County, Ala., where I grew up, was leveled by an EF5 tornado.
I was 12 years old. I did not know what to think when I saw the destruction. In Guin, 23 people were killed.
That “Super Outbreak” in the United States 45 years ago included 148 twisters. Tornadoes hit Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and New York. In those 13 states, 315 people died.
Eight years ago, April 27, 2011, I got a call from family in Hamilton, Alabama. Atornado, with peak winds of 210 miles per hour, had destroyed Hackleburg.
It flattened the home of my aunt and uncle, except for one small area. That’s where they clung to one another and survived. It was the former home of my grandparents, where I loved to spend a lot of time as a child and where we always had family reunions.
A few hours earlier, that same storm band produced an EF5 tornado that struck Smithville, Mississippi, also in Monroe County. The damage was catastrophic.
Many lives were lost in both Hackleburg and Smithville.
Each time I’ve been close to a tornado and seen the devastation and death it has left behind, it has made me more and more wary.
And each time it has made me proud to live in a small community, where the love for our fellow man is the most tremendous asset. I saw it in Guin, in Hackleburg, in Smithville, in Holly Springs and in Hamilton.
And I wish it was something we could display more each day – not just during the tough times.