Today is the 3rd anniversary of the tornado that hit Tiny Town. It destroyed every school, four churches, and about 60% of our town. In spite of where we were then, I think our new "normal" has arrived.
The schools are rebuilt. We switched from trailers to the beautiful new schools in January. The trailers are being sold and moved now. Three more have gone in the last week. Our students will begin the first full year in the new buildings this fall.
Our church was the last of the churches finished. We moved into the new sanctuary last September, but the pews and altar furniture weren't in place until the dedication in April.
There are still a few empty lots in the blocks that the tornado completely destroyed, but there are a lot of new homes, too.
These days I can almost forget that a tornado all but wiped us out. Walking or driving around town, things look pretty good. And to think, for the first two years I had to leave town to walk or run in parks in nearby towns. It was too depressing to walk in Tiny Town. I enjoy my treks through the streets of our town today.
I still miss the beautiful old trees that canopied our streets. I always will. Those can't be replaced quite so easily. Yes, a lot of new trees have been planted. I probably won't live to see them shading our streets again, but I know that they will someday. And I know someone else will enjoy them as much as I did.
The best part of our recovery is the number of families that still call Tiny Town "home." Every morning and evening our brick streets are full of bikers, walkers, and runners. There is shouting from the ball fields, which are packed nearly every night of the week. Flowers bloom, birds soar, and life goes on.
Three years. The first three months seemed like an eternity, and yet the three years have gone by so fast. As I've watched the news of the towns destroyed by tornadoes this spring, I know what backbreaking work is ahead of them; however, I could also reassure them that their towns will not only survive, but they will thrive. Tiny Town is proof of that.
Who would have thought that life would ever seem normal again? A community? We truly know what that word means: a unified body of individuals, interacting, living together, and sharing a history. We've lived that definition every day for three years. Our community is stronger for having survived such devastation.
And... I feel blessed to call Tiny Town my hometown.