It is so hard to wrap my head around - the surreal events that have taken place since Sunday, April 27, 2014. Only 3 years since my hometown of Vilonia, Arkansas - went through this same thing - my son and his sweet family losing everything AGAIN. How can this happen? I don't know - but it did.
Tornado 2011 (3 years and 2 days to be exact)
It has taken me this long to sit still and type this post - mainly because I don't even know how to go through it all, even though I have told the story a hundred times and answered so many questions.
But - in a nutshell - The town is devastated. Literally. Homes, businesses, buildings that have been there all my life. I grew up there. I graduated from there in 1978. My parents still live there as did my son and his family. Thankfully, my parents home was not hit. Praising God that none of my family were injured or worse. So many can not say that. There was loss of life. Two young boys. A father protecting his family in the bathtub. There were others. Some who lost their homes for the 2nd time with no insurance. Thank the Lord, my son was covered. He lost his brand new truck - again, covered. Those are replaceable items.
In the last tornado they were able to salvage a few personal items - photo albums, guns, bibles, baby memorabilia - things that were tucked under the bed and just managed to make it. This time there was NOTHING left - and their beautiful Boston Terrier, Mia - was in there. She is no where to be found. We have posted her pictures and info on the Facebook Tornado Lost and Found Pets and so many are being reunited with their families - but so far, no Mia. Their home imploded (most likely) since there was nothing at all left. This was a brand new double wide that they bought after the last tornado - bricked around the bottom, anchored - deck built on - over 2500 square feet. GONE.
Read Examiner.com story about Mia
There has been good news, though. Photos are showing up as far as 150 miles away! There is also a Facebook page called Tornado Lost and Found Photos & Documents - and I happened on 3 on the first day! I was so excited to tell my daughter in law and have since been in touch with the people who are finding the photos. As of this writing there have been 5 photos found. Hard to believe! I have spent my evenings pouring over FB finding photos of people I know and letting them know. I feel like I am doing something - I am 500 miles away. I have talked to so many people that don't even know me - they are a friend of a friend of a friend kind of thing. I have put them in touch with people who I know have needs that are different than my families needs. People with babies that need formula, diapers and baby items. People who have horses and cows. It helps me to feel a part of it.
Friends have been wonderful to them. Strangers have been wonderful to them. It is amazing.
A friend is giving me a "like new" 3 story Barbie house for my 7 year old granddaughter who lost the 2 story Barbie house I got her for her birthday a year ago. It belonged to her daughter and it has been in her attic - waiting for a yardsale - I am so appreciative of her generousity. My Lilly Pie will be so happy.
I am putting together individual "personal" boxes to mail for each of the 3 granddaughters and I have friends wanting to contribute. Another gave me $100 to buy gift cards to add to the mix. Such kindness shown for my family.A man my husband works with handed him $100 to give. He has never even seen a picture of my family to my knowledge. I have an envelope of money to wire them that is mind boggling, to say the list, from one friend that I know would prefer me not to mention. She is just that way. A HUGE heart for people. God Bless her!
Other good news - my son's friend who he grew up with had an empty rental trailer that they can stay in until insurance is settled and they can buy a house. They only had to stay with friends one night - here we are 3 days later and they have a place to lay their head, a washer and dryer, microwave, table and chairs and air mattresses to sleep on. They are comfortable. It is much much smaller than what they were used to for 5 people but the are OK with that! They have personally been given so much already. People coming from all over specifically to see that they get the items they are bringing. My son has had so many calls - and he tells them to "bring it on" If they can't use it - they will make sure it gets to some one that can. There is a need for anything and everything you can think of.
As for the hometown people - it is amazing to see the help they are being given. People have stopped their lives to volunteer. People from all over the state. Even outside the state of Arkansas. Chruches, Red Cross, National Guard, schools, missions, businesses - all pitching in to help. It is heartwarming.
I hear people are BBQing all over the place. I know there is food set up in tents every where.
It makes me proud. My husband and I plan to retire in 5 years. We know we want to live closer to my family. My husband says he always thought he would like the small town life and now he KNOWS he wants to.
****EDIT - today my daugher in law told me they found this mug on their land and it only has a tiny chip on the bottom. It has a picture of the whole family - Shane, Krissy, Alayna, Brooklyn and Lilly.
WOW! I told Krissy I see this as a sign from God - they will come back stronger than ever.