(WTVM) - Over two weeks have passed since deadly tornadoes ripped through Lee County, Alabama and Harris County, Georgia.
But that devastating and terrifying Sunday afternoon is still a very fresh memory for the hundreds of people who suffered unimaginable losses of life and property.
So let’s focus on all the good that’s been done and is still being done to help those neighbors of ours in both states recover.
Always at the top of the list are the first responders and the emergency management crews who were the ones who had to discover the bodies, notify family members, keep the public informed. Utility workers tireless tried to get power and cell service restored.
There were deputies and volunteers who re-directed traffic to keep us safe from fallen trees and debris after the storm.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones did a tremendous job of briefing the public every day in days after the tornadoes.
He was a reassuring figure, calmly updating the community and never losing sight of the deep concern for the dead and the missing. When he announced authorities had located all the people thought missing, it was a relief felt by everyone.
Then there were the donations. Too many to mention them all, but chief among them the Poarch Band of Creek Indians who covered the entire burial costs of all 23 storm victims, sparing those grieving families that final expense.
A couple from Texas arrived to donate their camper to a Lee County survivor.
Fundraisers by local TV and radio stations raised thousands of dollars, including WTVM’s partnership with the Red Cross that generated $30,000 in a matter of just a few days, which was part of a total of $327,000 from all our Alabama sister stations combined, now owned by Gray Television.
Fundraisers like the one Smith Station’s Dixie Youth Baseball teams held on their opening day added to the effort. Goodwill made a big donation of $15,000 dollars for survivors, and there were so many other gifts of kindness: hot meals provided survivors, as well as time and physical effort from volunteers in both states.
I also want to thank my team of dedicated news and weather professionals, especially WTVM Chief Meteorologist Derek Kinkade. He began warning about the possibility of very dangerous weather conditions several days before the tornadoes hit. Only local broadcasters can tell you when and where the storms are coming. National media may come through the day after, to cover the loss of life, but local broadcasters live here, work here and will always be here to help the recovery after the storm.
General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to:
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906