If you haven’t seen the pictures of the damage caused by what some are calling “The Quad-State Tornado,” you will. Some say one massive tornado traveled 250 miles. Some say, the weather was made up of a family of some thirty tornados. Kentucky took the biggest hit and may well have suffered its worst weather day in history.
North Georgia escaped, though it was dark here most of the day with exceptionally heavy rain. As with hurricanes, it’s hard to feel much joy in dodging the major thrust of a storm when that means it caused death, destruction, and property damage somewhere else.
According to WikiPedia, “The most prolific activity was caused by a long-track supercell thunderstorm that produced a family of strong tornadoes, if not a single long-track tornado, across four states. The tornadoes first touched down in northeastern Arkansas, before progressing into the Missouri Bootheel, and western portions of Tennessee and Kentucky, ripping through towns such as Monette and Leachville, Arkansas, and Hayti and Caruthersville, Missouri before crossing the Mississippi River into Tennessee and eventually into Kentucky, where the town of Mayfield suffered catastrophic damage.”
That all this occurred during the holiday season makes matters worse.
Whatever else I might have written today pales into insignificance as those of us–especially in the South–are thinking about Kentucky. On Facebook, when an area or a family suffers a loss, people often say “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” I’m not sure what this means other than the fact it’s become a handy cliché along with “I’m so sorry to hear the news.”
Do these comments help? Perhaps as a way of acknowledging that somebody else is suffering and/or has experienced a loss. We are saying, via clichés and better words, “You are seen and your suffering is seen and your loss saddens us.”
We are not gods. We cannot “fix” this. Perhaps one day we will know how to build affordable structures that are immune from high winds. But not today. Today we are sad. Tomorrow we may find ways to help beyond what first responders are doing already. Many of us will find ways to reach out.