If I were a betting woman, I would have lost big on April 28. In the event of the rare tornado here in southwest Virginia, we might see what amounts to a strong wind storm. The power goes out, tree branches litter the roads, and some shingles blow off the roof. When we have a tornado watch, it's usually all right to go on to bed, because tornadoes are quite rare. The odds were against us this time.
Early on that Thursday morning, in the middle of the night, during an extraordinary outbreak of tornadoes across the South, an EF-3 tornado changed the lives of people in Glade Spring and Chilhowie, changes that will take a generation to overcome. People were killed, homes destroyed, trees sheared off, and fear was permanently instilled in survivors' memories.
Then came the beauracrats from Washington, DC, to further attack those who were still figuring out how to begin rebuilding. Yes, they were from the government, and no, they were not here to help anybody. Across the border in Tennessee, victims of the same series of tornadoes were granted assitance from FEMA. Virginia was not.
The news stunned Virginia residents. FEMA's reasoning, you see, is that state and local resources were sufficient to cover the losses. That's fine, unless it's your house that has just disappeared. People are living in tents. Our church is helping one man rebuild his garage, where he plans to live until the rest of his house is rebuilt. People have moved in with relatives or made whatever arrangements they can until their lives can be restored.
I've read that FEMA is dealing with budget cuts due to the financial constraints our government is experiencing. The http://www.weather.com/ (The Weather Channel) site describes the problems FEMA will face as Congress looks for places to cut the budget in 2012. But the article goes on to say that FEMA is currently fully funded.
"FEMA has plenty of disaster recovery money for now. But the Obama administration only requested $1.8 billion for the budget year that begins in October, less than half of what will be needed to deal with recovery costs of past disasters like hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and the massive Tennessee floods of last spring even as the next wave of bills come in. Authorities are beginning to assess the damage and don't have estimates of recovery costs."
So what is the deal with granting assistance to some disaster areas and not others? Don't make me say that politics are involved. If everyone's needs can't be met, then FEMA should be defunded, and the individual states can take care of their own emergencies. Don't depend on FEMA.
In Glade Spring needs are being met. Local emergency responders and agencies picked up the baton. Churches are feeding people, clothing them, and helping them clean up while providing a shoulder to lean on. This is not an easy, nor a quick, fix, and the people of southwest Virginia are the ones who will rebuild their homes and businesses.
Our pastor told us Sunday evening about the Hall family whose home was one that was destroyed. When the storm hit, the bedroom window shattered, sending hundreds of shards of glass into the air. Mrs. Hall is still being treated for the dozens of wounds she suffered from the glass. The roof blew off the house, and in the dark and wet aftermath, Mr. Hall made his way to the yard where he met a Virginia state trooper. Mr. Hall was worried about the couple who lived in a trailer behind the house. As the state policeman and Mr. Hall made their way to the trailer, a third man joined them.
Mr. Hall said that even though it was pouring rain, the stranger didn't seem to get wet. When they arrived at the trailer, Mr. Hall and the policeman struggled to lift debris, while the stranger effortlessly raised up pieces of the trailer with one arm. The couple were rescued, and when Mr. Hall looked for the third man, he was gone.
"I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? . . .The Lord will keep you from all harm--he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Psalm 121: 1 and 7. Both now and forevermore, your life here on this earth, and your life beyond this existence.
Look for help from someone who has the capability to provide it and loves you enough to do it.