Reflections on devastation and resilienceMarch 4th, 2012 at 8:45 pm by Patrick Tolbert under News Blog
By Daniel Miller
It’s Sunday, March 4, 2012, and I’m sitting in my hotel room about to head back to Henryville for day three… thinking about what the past couple of days have been like for the victims of the Southern Indiana tornadoes. Words can’t express the devastation and destruction. I continue to pray for the victims and those who lost loved ones. When you see it up close and meet the victims – nothing else really matters.
I’ve covered many stories over the years that have changed peoples’ lives; even the tornado that hit Evansville in 2005; I was there. For me, this weekend’s destruction in Henryville puts a lot in perspective. It also reminds me how fragile life is… when you know someone cares it helps make things a little better.
Over the past couple of days on the ground here covering the story, I have met some very strong people – victims. During our Saturday Daybreak newscast, I interviewed a woman live on television who survived the tornado with her husband by taking shelter in their basement. She lost her home; her son and other relatives, who all live on the same stretch of road, lost their homes too. Her son, an Indiana State Police Trooper, was actually injured in the disaster. What struck me about her was her will power to come back to a place where just hours before everything in her life changed. She was there to pick up what she could. She told me, “I survived.”
Then there are the young victims of this disaster. Many of them lost their homes and were out with their family looking around at the devastation in disbelief. It’s not a pretty picture to look at when everything around you looks like a bomb changed the landscape. Not only did these young victims lose their homes, but many of them lost their school. It looks like a war zone. I won’t forget the girl who asked me, “What will we do now?” I literally had to take a deep breath. How do you tell a child who just experienced a life changing event it’s going to be ok. I thought about many others I’ve talked to and I assured her that no one is going to leave her side and from here on out she mattered…her life mattered.
The first responders who hit the ground running and continue to put in the hours to help make a difference – I can’t say enough about them. I can’t name them all, but I can assure you they are here and are working hard to help get this community back together.
I’m also proud of our station’s commitment to help our neighbors. After seeing all of the damage, WISH-TV teamed up with the Indianapolis Colts and started a telephone drive to help assist the victims. So far, their efforts have brought in over several hundred thousand dollars…IN JUST TWO DAYS and more is still coming in!!! I called my News Director, Patti McGettigan, after hearing this news because I couldn’t comprehend it. I learned from her how AMAZING Hoosiers have been this weekend. Our community has stepped up and opened their hearts. They’ve given their time and money to help the victims. Some of you have even e-mailed me asking how you can send donations. Thank you, thank you!! I’m happy to know I live in a community full of caring people.
There are so many more stories to share and I will in the days to come, but know as you sit back and watch the our reports from Southern Indiana… your neighbors need you. Keep them in your hearts and prayers. Their lives have changed forever.