Storm Damage

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By Kenny Mitchell



May 4th is a day that will always be remembered around these parts. Especially if you lived here in 1999.

On May 4, 1999 the town of DeKalb was very nearly wiped off the map by a monster tornado. Buildings were destroyed, lives were changed forever and a community almost as a whole developed a fear that lives with them still today.

That day in 1999 was as normal as any other spring day in Northeast Texas, until the storm came. The storm that shook DeKalb to its foundation trekked its way across Northeast Texas like it was on a mission to hit our area. I know that for sure because I followed it all the way from Paris. I watched as it rolled over Clarksville, and then Avery and saw what it did out in Lydia and then was on its heels as it destroyed the town that I love so much. In fact, it may have been that storm that first sparked my love for DeKalb.

Because, it didn’t win.

That tornado may have wiped buildings and homes off the map and it may have obliterated the schools and left them in rubble, but it didn’t win.

The people of DeKalb rose up that day in a unified effort to defend, protect and rebuild their little town. Neighbor helped neighbor, enemies helped each other, and every boundary that separated people was erased that day, even if for just a while.

The focus became one of survival, of reconciliation, of a unified effort to do whatever it took to make sure people were okay and got the help they needed.

Yes, that storm wreaked havoc on DeKalb that day, and it left an imprint that is still visible today, but it did not win. Time has seen DeKalb restore itself. Even recently, a new donut shop replaced a little piece of what was wiped away all the way back in 1999. New businesses live where old ones once stood. The schools have been rebuilt, parks flourish, and there is now today a push for new parks, new trails, a new lake and even more new places of business.

The storm of 1999 didn’t win. Storms since have come, done their damage, and left as memories, but not victorious in taking the town’s spirit. Ask Scotty Tidwell if he let that twister win. The answer would be no. Ask the Cherry’s or the people of Radiant Life and those that live on that street. The answer would be no. There is a resilience in DeKalb. It will win.

The fear of the coming storm may still be in the minds of those that lived through the past, but even those that fear what may be coming, know that when it comes, they will beat it back.

Now, that needs to happen in New Boston.

There has been a storm in New Boston. It has done damage. It has split families, churches and friends. It has left a trail of debris in its path that will take time to clean up.

But now it is time to start the effort to clean up, rebuild, reconcile and move forward.

It is time to stop thinking about the storm and instead think about the ways to rebuild the things that have New Boston on the precipice of prosperity. The people of New Boston need to mend fences, restore unity, and spread compassion and understanding. Working together always makes any job easier.

If we want to see New Boston prosper, it is time to start working together for the common goals of making the schools better, growing the business climate, and shining a bright light on all of the great things there are in New Boston.

The effort will not be easy. Damage is not usually repaired overnight.

Martin Luther King, Jr, said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Even more appropriate is the quote, from one that we should all listen to, and it is such a simple thought, but so hard to do. But, it is the key.

He said, “Love your neighbor, as you love yourself.”

I have seen that happen in DeKalb. In fact, we have all seen it in our lives from time to time. It is sad that it often takes a storm to make it happen, but now we have had our storm. Let’s ,make it happen.

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