Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two Weeks And Counting, Mena Tornado Photos

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. It strikes me to think how long it will take before the people having suffered these damages will be settled in decent houses again.

  2. Sorry to see your town so destroyed. You have been in our thoughts and prayers everynight. We love you guys!!!

  3. Enjoy your Sunday rest and really take the time to chill out. And I wish you strength for the coming week(s).

  4. Has it really been two weeks? It seems like just yesterday...and yet, I know it probably seems like an eternity to those whose homes have been destroyed. My heart grieves. And about half of the population?! Wow! May God strengthen each one of you for the enormous task ahead...and give you rest today.

  5. I have been praying for and thinking about you guys over these last few weeks! Praying, praying, praying!

  6. Wow. Thank you for the update, Rich. Still praying!

  7. It is everything you said, Richie: stunning, depressing, and overwhelming. How thankful I am that Deanna was ABLE to stand and pose for that photo! It could have been so much worse, hard as that is to believe.

    Praying for all of you. xoxo

  8. It is astonishing to see the devastation to the homes and the trees. All those people left whithout their home, I cannot imagine how they must feel.

    All the best to you all.

    Carolina (I popped over from Rhymeswithplague who gave us all a mention)

  9. You're so right - the feelings of loss are still so overwhelming and fresh!! It's hard to drive around and not get depressed. It's been a month, yet in some ways, it feels like just days ago.

    When they razed DJ's the other day, it really hit me that our town will NEVER be the same.

  10. My goodness, how terribly sad, how do these people begin to rebuild their homes and lives....