Shooting onsite of Tornado Damage

Videographer Mark out with me filming tornado damage.

While covering a fundraiser this summer in Brimfield for victims of the devastating tornadoes that ripped through the region on June 1st, I was struck by several things: first, the repeated entreaties by everyone I talked to for continued assistance, and perhaps more importantly, continued awareness – “don’t let this story go away” – and we shouldn’t let it. For those affected by the tornadoes, it will be YEARS before their lives return to any semblance of normalcy. The area itself will retain scars for decades and the landscape in some places is forever changed. And yet life still goes on for all of us, affected by the tornadoes or not. But for those who were affected, life will likely never be the same, and it’s easy for those of us who weren’t affected to be distracted from this fact by the 24 hour news cycles need for next headline.

The second thing that I was struck by was the incredible resilience and independence of the communities affected. As Brimfield Chief of Police Charles Kuss put it when I interviewed him 2 weeks after the tornado struck, people of the region seem to have “that can-do New England attitude of I will help myself, and more importantly, help my neighbor.” I could tell you story after story of the tales I’ve heard of people whose lives were upended by Mother Nature’s fury, and yet took time from rebuilding their own lives to offer their assistance to others similarly affected; giving of their time, resources and finances to help their neighbors, many of whom they didn’t even know before the tornado hit.

In this job I have – the job of telling people’s stories – I get to go places, meet people and be exposed to things first-hand that the average person generally doesn’t. Every once and a while we need a reminder that out of terrible things can come great things, and, when it comes right down to it – that people are inherently good and kind and do the right thing; I know that I certainly do from time to time! So I want to thank the amazing people of the towns in our region who have shown unparalleled dignity, strength and an overwhelming display of community in every sense of the word, for reminding me of just that …