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Thankful Thursdays #71: tragedy makes us human

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A tornado moves on the ground north of Solomon, KS on Saturday evening, April 14, 2012. {Photo source}

Several E3 tornadoes passed through southeast Wichita last Saturday, damaging all three of our aircraft plants and causing significant damage to a mobile home park and the Oaklawn neighborhood.  I live on the west side of town, and I can tell you I’d have much rather been at home with my husband and scared doggy than at work, which happened to be quite close to the path that the tornadoes took through Wichita.

This map shows my location (A), along with three areas nearby that were hit: (B) Spirit Aerosystems (C) Pinaire Mobile Home Park, and (D) McConnell Air Force Base.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Although not officially the USPS motto, it may as well be, and it was going through my head as I continued to key mail even when our lights went out (the computers never went down, I believe they are on a backup power supply) and I feared our revolving doors might be ripped from their hinges.  Tornado sirens blared, our lights flickered, went out, came back on, went out, our revolving doors were banging back and forth against the force of 135-165 mph winds,  rain & debris pounded our roof,  and lightening and thunder cracked and rumbled outside.  Our windowless cement single-story building was designed to endure the toughest Kansas weather so that mail delivery will never be delayed due to our plant losing power or being damaged, so although many of us may have preferred to crawl underneath our desks and suck our thumbs, there really was no safer place to go and we carried on.

Aerial view of some of the tornado damage in the Oaklawn neighborhood in Wichita. {Photo source}

It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to a devoted mail carrier that endures frostbite and heat stroke in order to get the mail delivered (thank you, Dad!).  Keying the mail through a tornado definitely made me feel a little more like one of those hard core mail carriers like my Dad, but although it was a proud moment in retrospect, I have to admit I was terrified out of my mind and a tear or two might have escaped my hard core eyes.

Damage to homes in the Oaklawn neighborhood of Wichita. {Photo source}

I probably didn’t do my best work that night, but hopefully I didn’t direct any of your mail to China…I hope you’ll forgive me if I did.  I was praying without ceasing while I typed and listened to updates on where the tornadoes were headed and the devastation they had left in their wake.

Tornado damage to Pinaire Mobile Home Park in Wichita. {Photo source}

As soon as I left work, eyeing the insulation scattered in our parking lot and wondering what unlucky building it had come from, I texted everyone who I thought might have been affected to make sure they were OK.  I’m so thankful God answered my prayers—every single person reported back that they were fine!  There was some damage to homes reported, but everyone was alive and well and thank God for that!

I’m also thankful that the tornado missed my workplace.  All three nearby aircraft plants were hit and damaged by the tornadoes, the worst being Spirit Aerosystems, which is just 1 ½ miles away.  A little too close for comfort!  I wouldn’t doubt the insulation in our parking lot came from one of their buildings.  These photos shows the damage to one of their plants:

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Yowza, this could have been us.  You guys can give thanks too that we were unaffected, as your mail delivery will not be affected by the tornadoes!  (We key mail all over the US and even to foreign countries-we’re pretty important! :) )

Oaklawn residents join together in the middle of the night to clean up fallen trees after the tornadoes.

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One thing that always touches me when tragedy strikes, is how people and communities pull together to help those affected by the devastation.  Last week I commented on how animals can make us human by learning from the kindness and love they have for each other, and I think tragedy is another thing that makes us human.  It can bring out the best and worst in a person, but ultimately, I think it brings out the best in us because we can’t stew in our own sadness when there are so many that need help.  We come together and help each other out!  And those unaffected come forward to help those in need.  It heals us, and it is such a wonderful thing to behold.

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I know it is a cliché expression, but God does work in mysterious ways.  Who knows whether he sent these tornadoes for a specific reason, or if they were just a result of the natural occurrences that happen in his creation.  I do know that all these natural disasters are a sign of the end times (Matthew 24:7), and while they are tragic, there is something beautiful about the human kindness that is sparked by them.  Sometimes I wonder…if we never had tragedy and disaster in our lives…would we be better people or worse?  (I’m speaking in the terms of this world, not the one to come, in which we will be perfect and happy!)  I’d hate to think we need tragedy and suffering in this world to give us a reason for kindness and empathy, but I wonder if it wouldn’t lessen.  Something to think about.

Why I’m thankful post-Midwest tornadoes April 16, 2012:

  • That we had 24 hours notice and plenty of time to prepare for the serious storms brewing.
  • For the sirens that warn us to take shelter.   And for the people operating them.
  • For the technology that allowed that very advance notice.  And for the people using it and delivering the notice.
  • None of my family or friends were killed, and in fact, there were NO DEATHS in all of Kansas.

And when it comes down to it, that’s all that matters.  Material things are necessary to our lives on Earth, but they can be replaced.  Thank God for sparing so many lives that night.  He is truly holy and awesome.

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If you’d like to help those who have been affected by the Midwest tornadoes, please visit the Huffington Post’s page with links to the different relief efforts helping the different areas.  Thank you!

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