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The play on silver linings

It's a remorseful project to try to find the silver lining to what happened in Mayflower and Vilonia on Sunday night.

Two communities were basically wiped out. Unbelievably, triages were set up in Mayflower and Vilonia within hours of each other on the same night.

It's hard to wrap your mind around a storm so powerful it moved 8,000-pound cinder blocks in work zones along the interstate, tossed large trailers across the interstate or wrapped them around each other — and apparently transported a picture that was in a Vilonia school to a spot in Batesville.

People, good folks, in both communities are suffering, homeless and faced with starting over.

It's the downside and risk of living in Arkansas, where tornados are common this time of year.

The tornado was not even a bad memory before we witnessed the upside.

People seemingly came out of nowhere to help neighbors, often people they didn't know. It was like the Minutemen in the early days of our  country — except this time they grabbed chainsaws and tools instead of guns and rushed to the aid of their fellow man.

Many of those helping had been disaster victims before and were giving back. Private groups, civic organizations, businesses, church groups and just-plain individuals quickly began organizing, helping, comforting or lining up to help once the rescue efforts were complete. KATV's Justin Lewis interviewed a Canadian couple who were just passing through central Arkansas on the way back home, saw reports of the disaster at the motel where they decided to ride out the storm, then traveled to Mayflower the next day to help where they could.

The good in humanity doesn't have borders.

And folks learned some lessons from that 2011 tornado that devastated parts of Vilonia. Safe rooms were built in schools and buildings that were automatically opened by warning sirens. Those safe rooms protected hundreds in Vilonia on Sunday night. One death is too many, but no telling how many lives were saved by the construction of those areas after the 2011 event.

Tim Horton at Auburn and Chris Curry at Northwestern State, two coaches who grew up in our community, immediately offered their thoughts, prayers and concerns through social media to those suffering. Jen Bielema, wife of Razorback head football coach Bret Bielema, took to Twitter early Monday morning asking how she and others in northwest Arkansas could help.

As a natural disaster pulled things apart, a whole lot of people came together.

We often measure the quality of life in a community by structures and events and natural resources and the feel-good stuff. But often the real measure of a community is displayed by the response to disasters and those feel-bad moments.

Love your neighbor. The meaning of that commandment was starkly manifest by the wave of mental support and physical aid that blew in shortly after that devastating tornado roared away.

 

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