Tornadoes unleash compassion, lessons from Dayton survivors
Local residents have expressed concern and support for those affected as they continue to strive to rebuild their own lives and communities.
Laura Mercer, executive director of the Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Operations Group, said it can be very difficult for people to find stability following a disaster.
“Recovery for people affected by disasters is really a unique and individual thing for every family – what their situation was like before, what recovery looks like for them,” said Mercer.
She said it was important for those affected to fight for themselves and for other members of the community when needed.
“From a survivor perspective, my advice would be to be an advocate for yourself and be tenacious,” Mercer said. “A lot of times it’s just a matter of hanging on.”
John Pyron grew up near the town of Mayfield, Ky., Which was the epicenter of Friday’s tornadoes. In 2019, while living in the Dayton area and working as the Emergency Services Director for Lutheran Social Services statewide, Memorial Day storms passed within two miles of his home. . His experience demonstrated the importance of community in the aftermath of disasters, he said.
“I think the hope in this whole process is that communities are resilient and people are resilient by nature,” he said. “You are not alone, we don’t have to be alone, we don’t have to do anything alone.”
Despite the tragedy and trauma that accompanies them, disasters often offer the opportunity to bring about lasting change, added Pyron.
“I think the brave thing to do is recognize that disasters disproportionately affect vulnerable people in the community,” he said. “I believe that disasters provide a unique opportunity for communities to courageously look at some of the historic wounds and traumas that have been at play in their communities. “
Many Dayton residents know what it is like to have their lives permanently turned upside down by the events of a natural disaster. The storms that wreaked havoc in the south struck a chord within the community, inspiring compassion among many survivors of the Dayton tornado.
Trotwood resident and tornado survivor Jessica Brady urged survivors in affected states to remain optimistic even in these times of great uncertainty.
“Don’t give up,” Brady said. “Help will come. I mean, it can take a while. But just be thankful that you’re alive. That’s really all that matters.
The desire to come to the aid of those who lost property or loved ones was also widespread among members of the community. Wanda King recalled how her community gathered around her after a tornado wiped out her home and barn in Perry Twp.
“My heart is breaking,” King said. “You feel like you want to pack your bags and get off and help, like everyone else has helped us.”
These communities hit by the recent tornado wave face a path of recovery that has no definitive timeline. Recognizing this uncertainty and coming together to face it are keys to moving forward, according to Sally Dyer, who is a member of the national response team at Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, a religious group dedicated to helping the aftermath of natural disasters in the United States.
“I think recognizing that it’s going to be a long process is the first step,” Dyer said. “Plus, having organizations that work collaboratively and together. Dayton was a prime example. Our long term recovery team got together quite quickly, given the scale of the damage and widespread damage that has occurred in our county and other counties. “