April / 2012
FROM THE EDITOR

After the storm
by: Paul Wesslund

Stepping up as a community

March started with such sadness we hardly knew how to think about it.

First we looked at the numbers.

That Friday, March 2, the National Weather Service issued 255 tornado warnings in 17 states.

Closer to home the numbers became even harder to hear. Thirty-four people died in 11 counties in Kentucky and southern Indiana.

We tried to humanize the numbers by listening to the terrifying stories of those waiting out the storm in shelters as the storms blew their towns apart.

Within hours we gave up trying to comprehend, and action became the clear answer.

Volunteers, supplies, and money started flowing almost immediately. The devastation was unusual in the way the weather rained and hailed in scattered spots of destruction across the region. But the response of surrounding communities was as old and familiar as neighborliness.

Restoring electricity is one of the first steps back toward normalcy, and electric co-ops had been listening to advance reports of the storm, prepared with their well-practiced plans to get the electricity back on.

Long-term aid effort
More than 8,000 electric co-op members lost power, but nearly all of those centered around the especially hard-hit city of West Liberty. One sign of the enormous scope of the wreckage in eastern Kentucky was that, in some cases, the electricity was restored to buildings so badly damaged there was no one there to turn the power on for.

In West Liberty, the focus became not just clearing away debris, but restoring jobs to start rebuilding the area’s economy.

That’s not going to happen in the next few days. And for the duration they’ll need the help of people next door, and people across the state and nation. The community support people felt in the first few days after the storms will need to continue until the job’s done.







KEYWORD EXCLUSIVE: THE TORNADOES OF MARCH 2012

You can support the recovery efforts through a variety of groups in each local area of storm damage. We’ve posted a more detailed report on the damage and recovery at The Tornadoes of March 2012.