When I visited my home town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after the Great Flood of 2008, I was most saddened by the personal detritus—photos, papers, awards and certificates—mingling with the trash lining streets and smashed up against fences. Those photos and papers were evidence of lives completely dismantled, the souls of households swept away.
In the Southeast this week, that deep post-disaster melancholy is again palpable. The tornadoes that ripped through Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia killed more than 340 people (200 in Alabama alone) and left untold devastation. Entire neighborhoods were reduced to splinters, NPR reports. Thousands of people lost their homes. Photos and marriage certificates may seem like small change in the face of such disaster, but I suspect that’s not the case when it’s the last surviving photo of your grandma.
After she found pictures from Smithville, Mississippi--100 miles away from her home--Patty Bouillon started a Facebook group to let people post scans of photos and documents they've found while they clean up from the tornadoes.This excellent use of social networking is also a stirring memorial to those who lost everything as the ruthless storms picked up entire households and flung their contents far and wide.
The tornado victims need our help. You can volunteer or donate supplies or send money. Let’s help rebuild homes and neighborhoods for those who have lost everything.