It has been over two weeks since my town of Mena was severely damaged by an F3/F4 tornado. I have not been to the damaged side of town for two weeks. Because I install auto glass I have been busier than I have ever been in my life. I am trying to get as many vehicles usable for people as I possibly can. The destruction of homes, cars and property is beyond my ability to describe. I have been getting up at 5:30 A.M. to go to work, and working until after 10:00 P.M. I come home, take a shower and crawl into bed and the next thing I know the alarm is going off. I have never been so thankful for a Sabbath day as I was this week. God knew what he was doing when he created the Sabbath day and told men to rest from their labors on the Sabbath. Today has been wonderfully refreshing for me physically and spiritually. I had the first good nights sleep I have had in a while, and was so blessed by our Sabbath School class and Pastor Dan's sermon.
This afternoon we drove into the damaged part of town and took some photos. The sights were very depressing as I thought of how many people in my small town have been affected by this disaster. Officials estimate that over 600 homes have been damaged. As I surveyed the damage today I feel that the estimates are probably low. With the amount of homes damaged I'm sure that 2,000 people or more were affected by the storm. The population of Mena is between 5 and 6 thousand, so nearly half of the population are dealing with the aftermath of the storm.
This photo really brought to my thoughts what people are having to deal with. Many of the damaged homes are still being occupied because the people have no place to go. As I was taking photos from the street this little girl was walking into her house. Earlier we had seen a young girl standing in the doorway of her damaged home looking out into the street with a forlorn look on her face. You can multiply her feelings by a thousand.
What is amazing in a disaster like this one is the extraordinary amount of work it is to clean up. These pictures were taken 16 days after the tornado, and there have been so many people working so hard with the clean up, and it still looks like this. Our tour of the town today left us feeling depressed and overwhelmed.
As we drove through town we passed the Salvation Army location. The Salvation Army does so much for the people of this town, but their building was damaged and is unusable. Even though their building isn't usable, they have been helping here in town along with so many other churches and agencies. The volunteers come from many different churches and organizations. The help and support have been utterly amazing. I came across this thank you note written on a house that says it all.
The tornado went up old college hill and took out so many trees that there is now a view of the town of Mena that was not there before. I saw a view of Mena that I had never been able to see before.
We took Deanna by her house, to see how things were there. She had so many large trees in her yard, and they are all gone. I took her picture with one of the stumps that measured 4 foot across. That was one large tree, and she had over 15 of these large trees on her lot.
I miss visiting my friends in blogland, but it will be some time before I am able to take the time to visit your blogs. Tomorrow I once again start the long hours at work. There is so much work that I am getting further behind instead of making headway. I have no idea how long this will last. I leave you with more photos taken this afternoon.
Arkansas National Guard soldiers and state prisoner work crews are removing debris while firefighters and volunteers from all over are helping residents recover from a devastating tornado.
The massive effort is helping restore function to the city of 5,700, but some residents are showing the strain they're under.
"We're getting a lot of calls (from people who are) physically and mentally breaking down. It's finally sinking in to them. A lot of people haven't had sleep in 24 hours. It's taking a toll," Reeves said.
Fifty soldiers from the National Guard worked security and on debris removal, and 60 prisoners aided in the removal effort, though not necessarily shoulder-to-shoulder with the troops.
The tornado, with winds estimated at between 136-165 mph, struck Thursday evening, killing five and injuring at least 60. About 600 homes were damaged or destroyed, major employers and government buildings sustained severe damage and the county's emergency communications center was still inoperable on Saturday.
Plenty of people are aiding in the recovery effort. Firefighters and sheriff's deputies from several counties, church groups, charitable organizations and others are playing roles that range from performing stoop labor to distributing food and water.
Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, said that the scope of the damage was still stunning to consider. A tornado in Dumas in 2007 cut through town, knocking out several businesses and damaging or destroying 150 homes, but equal to only a fraction of the damage in Mena.
"The feeling we get is that Mena has the worst residential damage in one town that we've seen in many years, DeCample said. "For the concentration in one residential town, this has been a big one."
The recovery effort has a long way to go, but Reeves said electricity has been restored to rural areas and that crews are working to get power to parts of Mena that can accept it.
But most much of the area will be in the dark for a while yet, and Reeves put out a call for people to donate ice chests and more tarps. He said 1,000 tarps had been put to use but there were many more roofs to cover.
"We're trying to secure everything we can secure," Reeves said.
My first blog entry from an iPhone. Tonight is the first night this week that I haven't worked late. Last night it was after eleven before I got home. I am typing while we are driving to Keene,Texas tonight to see Gavin. iPhone typing is too hard for me.
I got, got, got, got no time. No Time by the Guess Who was always one of my favorite songs. Right now I really have no time. I install Auto Glass, and the tornado broke many many windows. I have been working from 6 A.M. till 10 P.M. trying to get as many people taken care of as possible. It looks like this will be my schedule for the foreseeable future. No time for anything but work and sleep. Thank you for all of the comments and e-mails of concern that I have received.
A disaster like we have experienced here in Mena brings so many emotions and thoughts to mind that I have a hard time sorting them out. The big question that is on my mind along with many others is; Why does God allow things like this to happen? I have many more questions than answers, but I feel that I have to address the question.
There are many events that have caused people to ask, "why". I don't have the answers as to why so many tragedies happen. I do know that ever since sin came into this world through Satan there have been terrible tragedies. I suppose that Adam and Eve asked "why" when Cain killed his brother Abel.
The only promise that a Christian has in this life is that there will be trouble. Our trouble free existence will be in Heaven where God will wipe away all tears.
When a tragedy happens, God says ask your questions, but don't stop there. God has given a much greater opportunity. God challenges us to turn to Him for answers. God challenges us to argue with Him. God challenges us to trust Him explicitly.
Bad things happen in this world, to good people, and to bad people, although it seems like the good people get the worst. Murphy's law seems to be all too true. Why do bad things happen to good people? More specifically, why do bad things happen to me? God rarely answers that question. He would pour out only goodness on us all the time, if He could, but because we live in a sinful world, He can't. Men have free will, and God will not override it.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Because we live in a sinful world. I know that's not the kind of answer we like, but there is no better answer available.
Once you have learned this and deepened your faith that God has everything under control, then maybe there is a better way to approach the bad things that happen. Don't ask "Why Me, Lord?" when something bad happens. Ask God how He wants you to respond, and then leave the consequences in His hands.
It is all in the response. God can always bring good out of bad, but He needs us to cooperate with Him to bring out the greatest good. This is why Paul can say "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." Rejoice when good things happen, rejoice when bad things happen, because we can trust God to do what is for our eternal best.
Click on the photo above to purchase my latest book, In the Fog, for $5.99. The Kindle version is only $2.99.
I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled The Little Things - Devotionals from a small town, using articles from the column. I published the second book in the Devotionals from a small town series, titled In the Fog, in December 2017.