By Andrea Price a_price1
I’ve had the privilege of living in 3 states where natural disasters are prevalent: Arkansas, Texas and Florida. Last Sunday, while sitting on the couch, I heard the citywide tornado alarm sounding. Every Wednesday at 12pm the alarm sounds throughout the city, so when I heard it Sunday, I immediately knew a storm was brewing. I tuned in to a local news station and saw that a tornado was a few miles west of my home. I kept an eye on the news and I saw that the storm was taking a familiar path, a path through the rural communities of Mayflower (site of an Exxon oil spill) and Vilonia, Arkansas. Three years ago, a tornado hit Vilonia, and three years later, another tornado ravaged this area and left a path of destruction and death.
As I’ve watched the news stories and seen pictures of the destruction, I notice the foundations of most of the destroyed buildings are still intact. In all of the destruction, I see these intact foundations as symbols of hope. Yes, natural disasters have the power to destroy communities and claim lives, but there are other forces that also destroy communities. Violence, disease, lack of education, “isms”, hate and inequity, for example, but I have hope that through destruction and death the strong foundations in communities will stand in the face of adversity, will rise in the face of fear and will conquer in the face of disbelief. These foundations are the citizens that still believe that through death and destruction, love has the power to rebuild and cooperation has the power to sustain. I know Mayflower and Vilonia will recover; they’ve done it before because their foundations are strong. I also know that when empowered, communities that are ravaged by metaphorical storms can do the same if their foundations are strong!
So how do we build strong foundations to counter storms in our communities?
1. Be aware of the storms. We know what types of natural disasters have the potential to destroy our communities so we typically prepare for them with storm shelters, by boarding up windows or leaving temporarily until the storm passes, but we also need to be aware of the other forces that the meteorologists don’t mention that also have the potential to destroy such as the forces I mentioned before.
2. Stay informed about what is going on in the community, so when the alarm sounds we can be prepared to respond. I knew that the tornado alarm meant a storm was close, and we see signs in our communities that also warn us of things to come.
3. Know our neighbors, so when the storm comes, we can band together to repair or build when necessary.
4. Prepare our toolboxes. We know what tools we need to rebuild after a storm, but what skills, knowledge and resources do we need to rebuild our communities after a storm? The answer to this question varies from community to community and from issue to issue, but the tool that has to be present everywhere is love.
5. Don’ be afraid to endure another storm. Many of the citizens in Mayflower and Vilonia didn’t move to other areas after natural disasters struck before, they stayed and endured another storm. When we overcome one storm in our communities, that doesn’t mean others won’t come. Actually, they keep coming.
Yes, the storms keep coming, but are our foundations strong enough to stand in the face of death and destruction and are you willing to be a part of the foundation that makes your community strong? How do you suggest we build strong foundations?