Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back Home Again in (a Resilient) Indiana

Dana Corbit here. I'm writing today from a remote location in Kokomo, Indiana. My hometown. I had been planning to come home this week to visit with family, but the city I drove into last night - the uprooted trees, the huge signs and poles twisted like wire hangers, the homes and businesses either with gaping holes or reduced to rubble -  bore little resemblance to the hard-working, hope-filled city of my childhood memories. At least on the surface. You see, on Sunday, Nov. 17, when multiple tornadoes ravaged the Midwest - 23 in Indiana alone - two of those tornadoes tore a path of destruction through the center of this city. Still my city, even if I haven't lived here for the last 25 years.

It was so strange rolling down US 31, the main drag that bisects Kokomo from north to south. The car crept past police officers directing traffic because of power outages and past huge chippers and workers clearing away downed trees at the Chrysler Kokomo Transmission Plant. (I took the photo below while stopped in traffic, but the others are from my sister, who'd taken them earlier yesterday.)

When I turned off the bypass onto Lincoln Road,  I drove past a heavily damaged American Legion Golf Course and then past several locations inextricably tied to the memories of my youth. The Maple Crest Shopping Center, which was once home to my favorite cruising spot by the old Hills Department Store, looked like a war zone. The UAW union hall where my friend had her wedding reception had been destroyed. Even the complex where my dad and stepmother still live sustained damage.

Yes, I feel a sense of loss, but mine is but a raindrop in a flood when compared to the devastation many Kokomo residents are facing. So many, including one family I know personally, have lost their homes, and most will face huge obstacles as they rebuild.

I tell you about these losses because I wanted to share the other side of this story.  Even while they were digging out from beneath the rubble, residents were already giving thanks, that there has been no loss of life, for neighbors who are willing to help, for the ability to rebuild. Someone posted on Facebook last night giving thanks for the group of local youth who showed up together to help clear away debris at that same union hall. These people are resilient. They will rebuild...together.

Now this is the Kokomo I remember. It might not look the same. Truth be told, it didn't look like I remembered, even before Sunday. Twenty-five years is a long time. :) But I do recall this warmth. This faith in God. This hope for the future. Yes, you can go home again. And I'm happy I did.

This trip has been a reminder to me that as we look forward to Thanksgiving next week, we need to give thanks for all of our blessings, especially that we have enough to share with others. But more than to give thanks, we need to be Christ's hands on earth, whether digging out from a disaster like this one or helping others in our local communities in whatever way we can. The hymn we always sing at Thanksgiving, "Blessed Be the Tie That Binds," has been flowing through my thoughts all day, so I looked up the lyrics. The words from Verse 3, seem so fitting:

We share each other's woes,
our mutual burdens bear;
and for each other flows
the sympathizing tear.

Let us pray for the people of Kokomo and of the other communities affected by natural disasters.
Blessings to all!


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