Smithville Mayor Greg Kennedy (who is married to the daughter of my first cousin) had a pile of letters held together by a rubber ban sitting on his desk before the tornado arrived and swept away the tiny Mississippi village.
Yesterday, someone from Muscle Shoals, Alabama returned the bundle to him – apparently still intact. Also, the Melle’s Diner sign on Highway 25 was found near BIRMINGHAM!
Rick Ford, Smithville’s postmaster is also married to a cousin. When the lights went out in the post office, Rick opened the front door and saw the tornado just across Highway 25. He slammed the door and started running down the hall to the back…..walls collapsing behind him. He dove into the back room, grabbing a metal pole which went from floor to ceiling and sank to the floor. Bricks and debris fell, reaching up to his neck.
Next door at city hall, Greg and two co-workers crawled under a big table. The building roof flew off, the walls vanished, leaving the big table with the three underneath in the middle of the room.
A few minutes later, the group met in the middle of the street, all unharmed. Amongst all this destruction, at least two miracles happened in Smithville as far as my family is concerned.
The preceding information was provided to me by Bill Poe whose brother Glenn is Linda’s husband. They live in Amory which was spared. There were some tense moments until they could reach their children to find everyone was alive, though shaken.
The post office is gone. The school is gone. City Hall is gone. Most of the churches are gone. Nearly every building in Smithville, Mississippi is gone — or so heavily damaged they will have to be demolished. The devastation from last week’s F5 tornado is so widespread, so absolute, that it’s easier to tally what remains: The telephone company. Coker’s Han-D-Mart. And an unshakable sense of faith.
I’ve never been particularly afraid of bad weather. Maybe because in the old days we didn’t have Doppler Radar or warning systems to prepare us. We were blissfully unaware of the power of such storms.
I just don’t know how to prepare for such veracity and pray we don’t have any more tornadoes of this magnitude – at least this season, or ever.