Yes, the news can seem dire. Another tornado, a storm, a flood, lives lost, homes destroyed, families and their larger communities devastated. The cameras and news teams leave after the major tragedies are caught on film. Then what happens? Good things. Good things happen. Volunteers come out of the woodwork. Some are with highly trained crews; others are individuals from a neighboring town. Even more are locals. More people come because the same thing happened to them a few years ago. The common thread between all of these people who show up to help is that they want to do good work. They want to feel helpful, connected, to give hope and possibility at a time when it is hardest for the victims to see that possibility.
Jennifer Williams and I are in Washington, IL this week. Washington was hit by an EF-4 tornado last November 17. The storm damaged over 1000 homes and we wanted to visit Washington to see where the town is in its recovery less than three months after the disaster.
We spent Monday surveying the damage and rebuilding efforts. We saw what one might expect – a very mixed picture of where people are right now. Some homes are well on the way to being rebuilt, others are in a surreal state – the front of the house ripped off – exposing still made beds, other furniture still on the second story – clothes hanging in the closets. The only thing that makes these pictures bearable at this point in the story is the sound of hammering and sawing in the background – comforting sounds in this community determined to build back stronger than ever.
The idea that evolved into the business model that is now “Close to Home”, was sparked in the spring of 2011 during the rash of tornadoes that hit the United States. 2011 saw the second largest number of tornadoes recorded in one year’s time. I watched the news reports with concern. The tornado outbreaks occurred, …