Disaster aftermath brings out the best in us

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

There are those who say the world has become a cynical, hardened place embodied by people who have become conditioned to look out only for themselves.

David Reiminger might disagree.

The Jackson alderman says he has been humbled by the help his son, Todd Reiminger, received in the aftermath of the May 6 tornado that destroyed his home. Hundreds of people came to the aid of his family, donating food, drinks and labor.

As Jackson goes about the difficult task of getting life back to normal after the tornado's destruction, the stories continue to surface about how volunteers descended upon the town to lend a hand any way they could.

There was help on varying scales, but no donation of time and labor was too minuscule or too grand. One woman dropped off three six-packs of water for emergency workers. People showed up from across the Midwest to help. Several area businesses donated food.

A volunteer chain-saw brigade showed up out of nowhere, tools in hand to help buzz down fallen limbs.

Hundreds of other volunteers took time off from work to help victims get their lives back in order.

Relatives, of course, played a big part, as displaced families need temporary shelter.

There is plenty of work left to do. Twenty-two homes were destroyed, 43 received major damage and 140 received minor damage. Power lines were downed and debris is still being cleaned up.

The groups that always help in situations like these didn't let anyone down this time either, especially the Jackson police and public works departments.

The local chapter of the Red Cross had 52 cases last week and no doubt has more by now. The group prepared 1,000 meals a day for volunteers at the height of the cleanup. The Red Cross is still hard at it, seeking donations -- preferably money -- to help those who need it now more than they ever imagined they would.

The Salvation Army helped too. The group delivered nearly 2,000 meals from that handy mobile canteen that can be found at any site where there's a need.

There were a few troubling items. Residents were being warned about scam artists who might be offering to do bogus home inspections or contract work.

It was also inappropriate to hear about out-of-town gawkers who simply wanted to drive through town to see the carnage, as if they were visiting a zoo.

Think about how you would feel as your picking up private items in the front yard as a family of four drives slowly by with the windows down and their prying eyes on you. Maybe those people should have considered getting out of their cars and helping.

Overall, the stories have been awesome and inspiring. Despite a growing group of people who insist the world is a terrible place full of self-absorbed people, when a disaster affects people, the humanity in us prevails.

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