Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weathering the Storm

In my short time as a farm wife, I have spent a lot of time worrying, watching, and wondering about the weather. Cooperative weather means a happy husband, preschool tuition for the girls, and the possibility of a trip to the Gap once in a while. However, when the weather becomes less of a threat to one's pocketbook, and more on one's life, that is a different story.

The Midwest had a crazy weather weekend, as Illinois seems to do in early June. Last year it was straight line winds and no power (and also water in our case. . .did you know that about country living??? No power = no water!) for a week. This year, nearly one year to the day, a devastating tornado ripped through our community, especially damaging the heart of the town where my parents, friends, and other loved ones call home.

The picture of Americana, this little town even was hosting their annual Strawberry Festival on the town square. Complete with a movie theater and even a hardware store that actually sold hardware (and not much else), this downtown was the crown jewel in the area. After Saturday night, however, all is going to change. Roofs ripped off, brick buildings left crumbled, and now condemnations of most of the downtown buildings have left this little town reeling.

As we watched the storm from our kitchen window, nearly a mile from our house, we watched helplessly as it tore towards town. Our view to the north is truly a sight to see on a pretty day, but when there's a twister framed perfectly in our kitchen picture window, it is less beautiful and more frightening. Joe, in true farmer/former firefighter form, stepped outside and watched and took pictures as it headed to the east. We were scared, helpless, and hopeful that the damage would be little.

But it wasn't.

While the tangible heart of this town has been destroyed, the spirit and pride of Elmwood has not left. That is what is truly amazing about living out here- that, and that there were NO injuries from this storm. I truly believe that living in a rural community makes for a better life as far as space, clean air, and other easy answers, but it is the reaction to adverse conditions such as this that truly makes living in a community such as this amazing. These people are a "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" type of folks. Rebuilding will take place. I believe that without a doubt. It may not look the same, but the same pride that was put into the buildings over 100 years ago can still be put in a building that now is equipped with sprinkler systems and meets all building codes.

I am sad driving through town, weaving through the detour signs and cutting through streets that I know go to my parents' neighborhood. It is sad to think that this little slice of Americana will not be the same, but there has to be some good, something to take from this experience. My hope is that, like a difficult year in farm country, you take this experience, tell it as a story for years to come, and make something great out of it.

That's how I will weather this storm.

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