Monday, April 03, 2006

Nature strikes back again

23 people were killed within 40 miles of my home last night. The number of injured are still being counted. At least five families are sheltering at the local Methodist church. Compared to Katrina, to Rita, to the earthquakes in the Middle East, the Asian tsunami, and all the natural disasters that are becoming more and more common, this barely registers on the scale of tragedies. But this is where I live, and while that does not make it worse, it does make it more real.

Last night, I saw dramatic lightning and felt light rain and the unnaturally hot temperatures that mean tornado conditions are ripe. Even after the tornados passed, the humidity stayed so high that I couldn't rest wondering when another would hit. I'm feeling very lucky tonight and guilty because I do feel lucky.

Ten miles from here, one family lost five of its members, and another is still missing. I can't even imagine what that would be like. My mind refuses to grasp it.

On the highway which once bypassed my town but is now its center, I saw industrial clean up trucks and huge flatbeds carrying flashing arrow road signs go north all day long. The prices for tree surgery have already gone up. All anyone can do is clean up and go on.

I wonder just how much damage we've done to our climate, if we really can clean everything up, how much longer human life can go on, what the next dominant life form will be. Tornados, hurricanes, monsoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, floods have been around as long as the earth has been around, but has the frequency ever been like this?

It's easier to think about the big questions tonight, because there's so little a single person can do about the really big issues. The reality of so much personal loss for all these families is harder to handle, but it's what we need to handle. When we think about the big issues, we can get paralyzed.

What I know I can do is help someone pick up trash. I can take water to the town whose water purification and sewage system was seriously damaged. I can toss the can of aerosol hair spray and put my collection of canvas totes in the car so I can use them when I go to the grocery store. I can take greater efforts to make sure my car is in its best condition so I'll use less gas and produce fewer emissions. I can plant those dogwood and mimosa trees I've been wanting. I can use lightbulbs with lower wattage and make sure unnecessary lights are turned off. I know that I can live a greener life. I just hope it's not too late to make a difference.


Blogger Lisa :-] said...

When I heard about tornadoes in Tennessee, the first thing I thought was, "Cynthia..." I am so glad to hear you are okay. But sad to hear of the devastation so close by.

Climate change is here. Now. And it is scarier than hell. And the other day, I had a conversation with two otherwise liberal-minded women who still trivialized the process.... "It won't happen in MY lifetime." Why don't they get it? :-]

April 03, 2006 11:19 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

I thought that devastation must have been close to your house. We escaped it; the storm crossed southern Ohio. There were some people in Toledo who said they saw a tornado. But all we had here was wind and rain. Of all the seasons, spring scares me the most. It seems like springlike conditions are existing more of the year. We're having tornadoes up here in November, December, and even January sometimes! That's not right. So glad you are okay. I feel bad for the people whose lives have been broken because of this storm.

April 04, 2006 1:10 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Good for you, C, and for all you are doing. Having once been the victim of a tornado tragedy, I can tell you for SURE that the smallest things you are able to do to help will be immensely, incredibly appreciated.

(And p.s. I keep those canvas tote bags in my car...!)

April 04, 2006 3:28 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

It surprises me that so many people do not understand how our abuse of the natural resources in our world is causing these "natural" disasters.
Thank goodness you were spared destruction from this storm.

April 04, 2006 3:58 PM  
Blogger beths front porch said...

To live a greener life: I think that is a noble goal. Can we start a grassroots effort to do that? We just keep using and using! (Sorry, guess I'm on my high horse.) But really, where will our children and grandchildren live and be happy? ~ Beth

April 04, 2006 7:55 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

I too thought of you immediately when I heard about the tornados. Glad to hear you are ok. Sorry to hear so many others are not.

Peace, Virginia

April 04, 2006 9:18 PM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Yesterday a friend of mine in Tennessee almost ran head in to a funnel cloud. I hope you are ok today.

April 08, 2006 9:42 AM  

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