This post was written by Ashley Kuenstler, Content Specialist at the Midland Division, and life-long resident of the Midwest.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Midwest weather my entire life.
I hated the humidity and the war it waged on my makeup and hair every summer day, but I loved the orchestra of bullfrogs and crickets that followed at night. I hated the brutal winters and their accompanying chill that I could never seem to shake, but I loved dressing in so many layers I couldn’t move to play in the snow with my dad. And when I was 5-years-old, I learned what a tornado siren was, and I learned to hate it, too. Unfortunately, in the Midwest, it was something we were forced to grow accustomed to.
I was introduced to that siren-induced sense of panic on June 2, 1990. I was 5-years-old and attending a birthday party in the park for my best friend in Richland County, Ill. One of the first memories I have as a child was playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey at this party. In the middle of my turn, the sirens started. I remember their rise and fall – and how even though I had no idea what they meant, I was frightened by that noise. I remember looking to the adults as soon as the sirens started and seeing a look I now recognize as panic.
Later that evening, an F4 tornado briefly touched down and leveled a small neighborhood in Newton, Ill., not 15 miles from my house. Several weeks later, I remember sitting with my parents in our living room and being mesmerized by what I was watching on the television: it was a homemade recording of the tornado and the aftermath of destruction it left in its wake. My father explained to me that this was not make-believe like the majority of a 5-year-old’s TV programming. It was very real, and it had happened in a place all too familiar to me.
The Midwest is notorious for its devastating and often unpredictable weather. However, we’re also known for our generous hearts and our ability to band together in time of need. We are quick to come to the aid of our neighbors without hesitation, doing everything in our power to ensure those around us are taken care of. Even across state lines, the Midwest takes care of its own.
Two years ago today, a catastrophic tornado ravaged Joplin, Mo. Homes were leveled, businesses were reduced to rubble, and people lost their lives in a matter of minutes. As residents were still reeling from what had just occurred, The Salvation Army was already on-scene offering their services. A short time later, the Emergency Disaster Services team from our neighbors in Oklahoma City joined our efforts, navigating the remains of Joplin and offering food, water, and hope to those who – just a short time prior – lost everything they held dear.
Mother Nature struck again on Monday, this time in Moore, Okla. – two days before the Joplin anniversary. Just as we begin to heal from the last round of devastation, we are given a sobering reminder of just how fickle, disastrous, and heartbreaking Midwest weather can be. But in the midst of the rubble and heartbreak, we’re also reminded that there are a wealth of people who would do anything to help.
The Salvation Army is currently on-scene in Oklahoma, providing food, beverages, and critical spiritual support to the survivors and first-responders. A team in Joplin is assembling various care items for those affected, and our team here in St. Louis is on standby, ready to come to Oklahoma’s side as soon as they need us.
When Joplin was devastated two years ago, you joined The Salvation Army and came to the aid of survivors without a moment’s thought. You donated millions of dollars to help them pick up the pieces, rebuild, and start anew. Now our neighbors in Oklahoma need us, too.
With a $10 donation to The Salvation Army, a disaster survivor can eat for one day. A $30 donation provides one food box, containing staple foods for a family of four, or one household cleanup kit, containing brooms, mops, buckets, and other cleaning supplies. A $100 donation can serve snacks and beverages to 125 survivors and emergency personnel. A hot meal can be provided to 100 survivors or keep a hydration station operational for 24 hours for $250. And a $500 donation will keep a Salvation Army canteen fully operational for one day.
Donors are encouraged to give online at http://www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling (800) SAL-Army (800-725-2769). You can also text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone. Donations in the form of checks designated to Oklahoma Tornado Relief may also be mailed to: The Salvation Army, PO Box 2536, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.
The Midwest is known for its weather, but it’s also known for the generous hearts of its residents. Please join us as we help our Oklahoma neighbors recover and rebuild, assuring them that we do, in fact, take care of our own.