Tragedy Without Sirens

Déjà vu. One more time we listened as at least one meteorologist said, “This is setting up like the May 3rd tornado.” In our area, May 3rd is like 9/11 is like April 19 is now like May 20.

Our senses heighten when the crisis includes more than one person. When it involves nearly 60,000 we form lines outside of the Channel 9 television station, we laud million dollar donations by corporations, and we spot celebrities at drop off points. I am glad we do.

Monday a slender black man walked Highway 37 before the sky darkened as we took photos of the lowering in Newcastle from miles away. He toted a duffle bag, a backpack, and a trash sack. His story is one of a personal tornado, a story that does not come with sirens and safe rooms.

Vietnam, Central Asia, and the Middle East formed the storm clouds that produced the devastating winds of his life. Now at an age when we say, “Head West, we would expect to encounter a much younger man. Where does he go? Where does he stay? Who will care for him? What will come of him?

We need donation drop off points. We need shovels, gloves, water, and trash sacks. We need chain saws, flat beds, skid steer loaders, and dump trucks.

We also need eyes attuned to the lesser storms. We need to notice the inconsequential Melvin’s that walk our highways. We need to think of those who pass us by without fanfare and media spectacle. We need to hone our big times skills long before the massive tragedy strikes.

The thing is, no one may know. Who will see me walk the streets of Moore? Who will witness me unload my truck full of supplies? Who will applaud my sacrifices? Who will hear that my church traveled out of town to help?

Melvin will.

*This post first appeared in the Tuttle Times, May 23, 2013.

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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