Column/Storms a reminder of what’s important

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2007

There’s a lot happening in our area this weekend, and it’s an exciting time for those interested in politics.

Presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have already announced they’ll be in town Sunday for the Bridge Crossing re-enactment.

Now it has been announced that former President Bill Clinton will also be in town for his induction into the National Voting Rights Museum Hall of Fame.

Email newsletter signup

All of these announcements made for an exciting week for a newsroom staff, and reporters have been lining up who they’d like to cover.

Yet, on Thursday, an incident occurred that brought everything to a standstill and reminded us of what’s really important.

Storms swept across the state, destroying homes and killing at least a dozen people.

The tragedy is not just something that happened somewhere else. A man was killed in Wilcox County, where dozens of homes were destroyed. There was destruction in Lowndes County and Orrville as well.

In my time working at newspapers, I have covered a lot of stories of destruction – mostly hurricanes – from Erin and Opal to Georges to Ivan and Katrina.

Yet, what I witnessed as the aftermath of Thursday’s tornados in Wilcox County was as destructive as anything else I’ve seen.

The damage may not have been as wide-spread as often happens with a hurricane, but when a house is gone – nothing left but the slab – that’s pretty much total devastation.

The force of nature is strange, indeed. One house may be completely destroyed, the one next door not damaged at all.

The fact of the matter is that there are people in our area who are going to need some help for a long while. Those who lost their homes and everything they owned will need help – short term and long term.

Agencies such as The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross will need financial assistance so that they can continue to meet the needs of those affected, as well as the needs of first responders who are on the scene.

For those who have lost loved ones, we can only offer our condolences and our prayers.

And, as far as politics go, there can be assistance there as well.

Gov. Bob Riley has declared a state of emergency, which will provide for the opening of shelters, and could bring federal assistance to the areas damaged.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., along with the entire Alabama Congressional delegation, asked President Bush to declare a disaster in Alabama, so that we can receive help in a “swift and efficient” manner.

Let’s remember those across the state who will be rebuilding, and grieving in the aftermath of these storms.

It certainly puts things in perspective.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.