Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 22, 2013

Showing the world we're #KokomoStrong

Kokomo Tribune

---- — 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.

He told me he wanted to help with the relief efforts. Why?

That’s easy. He’s returning the favor. The city helped him when he moved here from Marion.

“I just want to inspire and help the city that took me in as family,” he said.

Everyone should try it.

It doesn’t have to be some big, elaborate gesture. Do what you can, and give what you can.

Maybe that means donating the dollar you planned to spend on a Coke at work.

Don’t think you’re not helping by giving a simple monetary donation. The lovely ladies at United Way will tell you otherwise.

That dollar will go a long way in helping someone who, right now, is hurting.

Not feeling inspired yet? Maybe Adams can help.

He wrote a song this week after seeing what the tornadoes left in their wake and posted it on YouTube. It’s called “Together We Stand” and has been viewed 2,453 times.

“Let’s come together, and make our city right,” he sings. “Cause you’re my brother, you’re my sister. We gone change some lives. Let’s come together, and make our city right. It starts with me, starts with you. Let’s all stand and fight.”

-Lindsey Ziliak

[friday] editor/proud Kokomoan