Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

[friday]

November 22, 2013

Showing the world we're #KokomoStrong

Showing the world we’re #KokomoStrong

I’d never seen the aftermath of a tornado before – holes in roofs, missing walls, heaping piles of debris and people crying over all they lost.

As I walked through the streets of Kokomo Sunday afternoon, my heart hurt and my stomach churned. I’d never seen that kind of destruction up close.

And everywhere I turned, it seemed, someone else had a horrifying story to tell.

People hid in closets, cars and underneath sinks to survive. Some crouched down and covered their heads as glass blew out all around them. One jumped into a basement as his house was being sucked away.

More than 30 businesses were likely destroyed and even more homes leveled.

But in all of that, no one died.

In that, we should count our blessings. And many have.

As we celebrate, though, let’s not forget that many lost the businesses they built here and the homes they created with their families. They may never see their wedding photos, their favorite teddy bears or baby dolls again.

Some have nothing left but the clothes on their backs.

They need us now – all of us – to help them rebuild their lives.

So far the community has proved its strength.

People have showed up from everywhere to pick up debris, cook meals, care for children, pass out fliers and man temporary shelters.

In fact, at times, there have been more volunteers than relief agencies know what to do with.

We call that #KokomoStrong.

Now, I didn’t grow up in this community. I haven’t even been here two years yet.

But your generosity and heart, folks, have already turned me into a proud Kokomoan – if that’s even a word.

I know another transplant who feels the same way.

I talked to Indiana University Kokomo student Jarrett Adams this week.

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