Category: Tornado

Long Way Home:
Rebuilding Tornado Town, One Donation At A Time

June 16th, 2011 — 07:05 pm

Two weeks since the tornado came through, and by most accounts, we’re making real progress in our tiny town. Houses once broken disappear overnight, leaving empty spaces; others, chimney-less and battered, cover their gaping roofholes with tarps, until the valley below the town hall begins to look like a patchwork quilt: patches of peaked sky blue, newly exposed summer lawns, lumber, the stone grey of bare foundations. People go to work, and school. The local news moves on to other topics; there are long moments when I forget that the place where I live and love and raise my family is still so broken, so needy, so much in pain.

A semblance of normalcy begins to settle in us all. Committees are formed to disburse donations; the volunteer coordinators at the First Church now have regular hours, and a database to track those who need, and those who offer. The immediacy of disaster fades into a kind of natural, endless discourse about methodology and priorities, even as the invisible work crews still struggle to cut and move brush and stone across the valley, and the homeless find temporary housing, or move along to their out-of-state in-laws, wondering how and when they will be able to return.

The world is brighter than it used to be, now that sunlight streams through where once shade and evergreen woods lined the mountaintops. You can see the downed treetops on the mountains, and the lines of ragged trunks that snakes its way down and through and back up again. The churches and the tall stone performance hall in the center of town are stabilized with tacks and tarps, and surrounded with shiny fences, preserved in the midst of chaos while they await red tape and federal funds, stonemasons and donations.

Monson remains united, as the t-shirt says: in our grief, and in our efforts to keep up what has become an increasingly uphill battle to sustain the energy of clean-up and stabilization. But we are not healed, yet, and not out of need. The calls still come, throughout the day on our facebook page, and on signs that litter the broken streets: for chainsaw crews and brush haulers, clothing and bins, ice and water for the workers, dinners for the displaced.

Scarred and broken hearts lurk in our bodies, as their physical representations do on our streets.

And such scars take longer to heal than we ever remember.

For the days come where the rain clouds come in on the wind, and our blood starts to beat a little faster. We scan the darkening sky, measuring the swirls and eddies against our memories; we stay inside, and sit watchful on the couch, facing the picture windows, our chests tight against each other as rain beats on the roof.

Though the rainbow which comes afterwards, an apparition hanging over the desolation, reminds us of the joy and gratitude we felt in the first days after the storm, its effect, like its existence, is fleeting. And when it is gone, it leaves behind it the exhaustion of change, of the unsettled life, of the dark clouds on the horizon.

Some day we will get over it, this irrational fear of clouds.

Someday, when we have helped everyone, we will be healed.

For now, Cover Lay Down is giving 40% of all donations before the end of June to tornado relief, to help the hundreds of people still in need in our community. Please consider giving what you can, and rest assured, we’ll apply your donation to real people in real need, where it can make the most difference to rebuilding a town ravaged by natural disaster. I’ll even throw in a 10-song exclusive download – all live, all covers, all recorded by yours truly in the last 12 months – for anyone who donates.

And all you have to do is click here to help.

Here’s a few songs about the slow process of rebuilding our hearts, and the world, after loss transforms us, to keep us going as we rebuild the world together.

Previously on Cover Lay Down:

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