Hurting for the Heartland
posted at 1:40 pm on May 23, 2011 by Tina Korbe
The tornadoes that tore through the Heartland yesterday left dozens dead and still more injured — and dangerous weather continues to threaten many parts of the country.
At least 89 people were killed in Joplin, Mo., which received the worst of the severe weather.
If the death toll in Joplin exceeds 115, it will be in the top 10 deadliest tornadoes in all time, none of which have occurred since 1953 according to the Storm Prediction Center. …
The area will have little time to clean up as another round of severe weather is expected again today.
Obviously, this isn’t political — but the Heartland is my home and this is too big to ignore. The pictures, the audio, the video — like the below video from Breitbart TV — all convey some of the terror of this tornado.
But no static image on a screen, no panicked voice echoing in a headset, no film scrolling past no-longer-recognizable landmarks can possibly undo the devastation of this stunner of a storm.
The news cycle, sometimes, dehumanizes even the most human of events, but the lives lost in these tornadoes deserve tribute. So, here’s the closest approximation I can give. I didn’t know anyone who died in the storms, but I grew up in Oklahoma City and Northwest Arkansas, close enough to Joplin to have found myself there — at least once — by trick of a wrong exit off the highway. I also lived in Oklahoma City in 1995, at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, and in 1999, when a deadly tornado swept through Midwest City.
Here’s what I know about the Heartland: In times of tragedy, the people in the center of the country truly do live according to what journalists in 1995 dubbed “The Oklahoma Standard.” Where I come from, nobody runs away after a disaster … Folks run toward it, to offer what help they can. From far away, this is about the best I can do — but my heart goes out to the survivors in Joplin and to all those who suffered losses in yesterday’s storms.
And as I’m thinking more about it, it seems to me “The Oklahoma Standard” is also “The American Standard.” The Red Cross is already rallying support for the tornado victims — and I have no doubt Americans will be generous in the help they offer. Here’s to the Heartland.