published Friday, April 29th, 2011

Death, damage, recovery

With the sun breaking through after a time of death and destruction from scores of storms and tornadoes across the Chattanooga area and much of the Southeast, our people were sharing stories of “what happened” and were pulling together in efforts to dig out and try to resume as nearly normal lives as possible.

That will not be easy.

Each of the well over 200 deaths across a multistate region — including many victims in Hamilton and surrounding counties in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama — was a tragedy.

It may be little comfort to many at this time, but it is remarkable that there were not far more lives lost, judging from the severity and scope of the storms.

There are countless harrowing stories about how the forces of nature created havoc in thousands of lives — particularly in areas such as the Apison community in Hamilton County and Dade and Catoosa counties in Georgia. But fortunately, there also have been many stories of “near misses.”

Property damage has been extensive, with homes, businesses and vehicles destroyed and countless huge trees that had survived for decades uprooted. The financial toll will be severe.

Additionally, there are so many downed power lines that thousands of people still had no electricity long after the bad weather eased. Tired service crews worked overtime to speed the restoration of electrical service.

In the wake of the disaster, we give thanks for the many people from all walks of life who came to the aid of others, and who continue to help us recover.

Police officers, firefighters, utility crews and other emergency responders — as well as volunteers and helpful neighbors — have been working tirelessly.

Still, recovery will be neither quick nor complete. The damage has been so great and so widespread that it will be a long time before some semblance of normalcy returns for many of our people.

As we mourn lost lives, we are grateful that the death toll and damage were not worse. We are in awe of the tremendous forces of nature that have assaulted us — but that will not defeat us.

Spring is usually a pleasant season that we welcome after the trials of winter. But this spring surely has been one of the most terrible for many of our people in many ways.

We should remember and encourage as best we can those who have suffered the most from nature’s ravages throughout our area. All who have the means should volunteer their time and make donations to worthy organizations that are helping the bereaved and afflicted.

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