Just about three years ago, the family and I planned a road trip to visit my in-laws five hours away from here. About an hour before we were to leave, a tornado came through the town north of us and went right up along the only major road out of our county. It caused major damage to many homes and businesses, and if memory serves one or two people died in the storm. We did not know the effects of the storm until we attempted to leave town. Had we truly understood the force of such things like tornadoes, I don't think we WOULD have attempted to leave town.
Houses we knew on the drive out of town were entirely gone. There was an field filled with what I could only describe as rubble; I honestly don't remember what had been there. Entire stands of trees were mangled, and you could literally trace the path of the tornado just by looking out into the fields. We drove through this part of the state about one hour after it had been practically ripped in half; it was very scary. It took us three hours to drive to the outskirts of our state's capital from here when it normally takes about 50 minutes. And what we saw along the way was horrible.
This week I keep hearing people say, "I can't imagine what being in Louisiana and Mississippi is like right now." Now, clearly what I saw here three years ago is only a minor, tiny, fraction of the devastation we're seeing on TV reports from the south. But the weird thing is that I feel I CAN imagine what it must be like. I hate it; it's almost like an old wound is coming back, and the tornado here really didn't even directly impact my life. It affected my mind, I suppose, because the images still stick with me. Some of the tornado damage is still visible today. I can imagine what it would be like to be in New Orleans or Mississippi right now. What I cannot imagine is actually being a true victim of either of these natural disasters. As much as I make fun of how poorly built our house is, at least we only sustained a minor leak in our kitchen ceiling as a result of yesterday's rain. The roofer was able to fix it today, less than 24 hours later. How different from New Orleans can THAT be?
Certainly puts any dissertation stress into a different perspective, that's for sure.