Tornado showed the resilience of a community | News, Sports, Jobs
We are Gaylord.
We may not be there in place, but surely we are all there in spirit.
In times like this, city and county lines evaporate, and we are all one – northeast Michigan.
Last week’s horrific tragedy reminded us once again of the strength that Mother Nature packs within her and, when unleashed, how quickly a normal day can turn into a tragic one.
There’s a reason county emergency agencies do weather siren checks. Although meteorologists can sometimes see potential problems developing hours later, in many cases – like tornadoes – perhaps the best we can expect is a 15-minute warning.
It’s not a lot of time.
According to The Associated Press, Gaylord does not have tornado sirens, but residents reportedly received a “code red” warning on their phones about 10 minutes before the storm hit.
Looking at the videos that emerged from the Gaylord tornado, traffic was still heading towards the tornado as it touched down and began its destructive path. Suddenly motorists realized what awaited them when brake lights were seen and cars reversed as motorists tried to outrun the destruction.
As we know today, many did.
Many could not.
The storm claimed the lives of two people and left hundreds more homeless, tens of thousands without power or internet. He demolished a mobile home park, destroyed several businesses and overturned numerous vehicles. There was a report of new clothes from Maurice found about half a mile from the store.
In the midst of all this destruction, it would have been easy to be appalled.
Not the residents of Gaylord.
Not residents of northeast Michigan.
From here and there, people came out with extra food from their pantries, clothes from their closets and dressers, chainsaws and heavy equipment. It was time to roll up our sleeves, get to work and pick up the pieces of shattered lives.
Police, fire and emergency crews were busy at work. Likewise, utility crews were working hard to restore power. Officials from the Department of Public Works were cleaning the streets. Throughout this time, several public agencies, such as United Way, the Salvation Army, Foster Closet and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, have worked to meet the needs. Community service groups stepped up to lend a hand, and churches, like the E-Free Church-Gaylord Campus, stepped up to help. The E-Free Church served as a temporary shelter for displaced families and as a distribution center for food and supplies.
In short, looking around you saw hope. Hope in humanity. And you know what? In the midst of the tragedy, that hope was damn inspiring.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in declaring a state of emergency in Otsego County following the tornado, said, “Michigans are tough. We are resilient. And there is no challenge that we cannot meet together.
She’s right, and people in northeast Michigan have proven it every day since the tornado first hit.
Bill Speer recently retired as publisher and editor of The News. He can be reached at [email protected]