As we pause to reflect on the EF-3 tornado that swept through our city one year ago, our thoughts gravitate toward our community's reaction more than the devastation.
It was devastating. The tornado caused injuries and an immense amount of property damage. Fortunately — perhaps amazingly — no one died. Many communities ravaged by tornadoes haven't been so fortunate.
As for the damage, the tornado cut a path through our city, including some of the areas with the most poverty. It damaged schools, churches, government buildings, a YMCA, apartment complexes, historic buildings, fast-food restaurants, a car lot and much more.
We permanently lost our city's only bowling alley business, and a single car dealership lost 750 vehicles.
Nearly $2 million in federal assistance came into Cole and Miller counties to help residents who suffered damages from last year's tornadoes and flooding that hit the area.
The buildings and the material possessions can be replaced. Some buildings have been rebuilt, while others still await demolition.
The rebuilding continues, and will be a long process.
Meanwhile, we have gained a stronger sense of community with neighbors helping neighbors, and an influx of charitable giving. People donated time and money to help those in need get back on their feet.
The rebuilding has been slow, there's no doubt about it. We naively thought it would be quicker. But it has happened. In the past year, the historic East side of our city has been abuzz with power tools, machines and the swinging of hammers.
We've said it before, but it's worth repeating: Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. But our community has kept up the pace.
We survived flooding before the tornado, and we'll survive the pandemic that came after it. Each of these has taken its own toll on our community, but they each have made us stronger in various ways too.
Our community has banded together to help those in need, and various charitable agencies have stepped up to coordinate those efforts. That compassion and can-do spirit give us the confidence that we'll continue to come back stronger than ever from the tornado as well as the other adversities we face.