I thought Tornadoes were for Kansas?

by - April 18, 2011

Saturday a huge tornado swept through Downtown Raleigh and South East Raleigh. While our friends were hiding in closets and basements, we stupidly were standing at our windows amazed by the blowing trees and looking for cues that it was time to hide. Our neighborhood was missed by about five blocks. Power went out almost immediately and came back on in the middle of the night the next evening. Scooby had only one thing on his mind: light. Can we light the fires? Where is your flashlight? Can I hold it? Where is Daddy's flashlight? Can I hold it? Do you want to trade flashlights? I thought he'd be excited to have the lights back on this morning.

Me: Good morning!
Scooby: Good morning!
Me: Did you know the power is back on?
Scooby: (looking around) Oh, that's so awesome! Where is your flashlight?

On Saturday we tried to get over to King Charles with a chainsaw, and every road in was blocked. We couldn't drive more than a block in any direction without having to turn around. Families were standing in front of their houses staring in disbelief at the piles and piles of branches and rubble. We could have walked in, but it wouldn't be safe with the boys with us. Eventually we accepted that we couldn't get in and were only adding to the chaos, so we headed home.

As we talked to friends from church over Twitter and text, we didn't hear of much damage to their homes, but many of the surrounding houses were devastated. Joe went out after church to help clean up a neighborhood just northeast of us and I drove through downtown to look at the massive trees that had fallen. The tornado somehow managed to only hit the poorest neighborhoods of the city. Driving down Jones, there were some fallen limbs in the wealthy section, and almost right as it transitioned into a poorer neighborhood, power lines and trees were down.

The same was true of downtown. As soon as we entered the residential areas of E. Hargett and Martin, it was like entered a war zone.

I don't think this tornado had any sort of socioeconomic agenda, but those families affected will have difficult time recovering. While this is devastating, it is providing amazing and beautiful opportunities for people to serve their community. There were at least 100 people from our church out cleaning yards yesterday and meeting the neighbors of friends they wouldn't normally get a chance to speak to. Many of these folks from church have intentionally moved into impoverished areas with the hopes of being able to love those who often get overlooked.

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  1. "...folks from church have intentionally moved into impoverished areas with the hopes of being able to love those who often get overlooked." I love that.



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