Storms remind us we're at the mercy of Mother Nature

6/20/2014

Mother Nature has her way of humbling us.

Mother Nature has her way of humbling us.

When I first heard Pilger was gone, wiped out by a pair of tornadoes, I thought it was an exaggeration.

You know how we all get when describing something terrific or horrific.

But in this case, Pilger, Neb., as it stood before the tornadoes, is no longer.

It's too early to know whether the town will ever recover.

Will businesses want to rebuild?

Will residents want to stay?

Can they ever go back to the way it was?

You cannot help but feel so small when storms rip apart towns and cities.

When warnings come that storms are heading our way, all we can do is take shelter and pray.

Almost every conversation I have had with people after the storm that ripped through the Norfolk, Neb., and Blair, Neb., areas and now Pilger, involved the terms how lucky we have been so far.

Whether it's luck or not, the severe weather has avoided this area, and I can't help but wonder how long our luck will hold out.

Like I tell my children, bad things can happen to us, too.

This stormy season brings back memories of the tornado that hit Wayne, Neb., last October and not being able to reach my son, Alek, immediately.

Thankfully, he was fine, but you never know.

Unless you've lived through a tornado or severe weather, you cannot understand what it's like.

I have no idea what the people of Pilger went through.

I have no idea what it would be like to wake up the next day and have to clean up a lifetime of memories.

I have no idea what it is like trying to carry on after a storm takes one of my children from me.

While looking at a pile of rubble that was once your home or business is hard enough, to have to bury a child would be nearly unbearable.

The tornado that ripped through the middle of Pender, Neb., has reduced that town to near nothing.

Volunteers have poured into the town trying to help pick up the pieces.

I can only imagine what it must be like to try and pick through the pieces of your home, trying find any photo or keepsake that is salvageable.

Think about all the things we keep: wedding photos, artwork by our kids that we hung on the refrigerator, old baseball gloves or quilts given as gifts.

Most of it would be gone — either destroyed in the storm or carried off by the wind to where only God knows.

All this makes me feel very small.

We go about the daily routines of our lives — going to work or school; heading to the pool or picnics — and literally in seconds, everything changes forever.

The life we thought we were living is suddenly changed.

There's no going back for the people who lived through these storms. No do-overs, no way to change anything.

The only thing we can do is what we have always done when tragedy strikes. We get up and face the day and do our best.

The people of Pilger are doing that right now. That doesn't guarantee their lives will ever be the same, but that is the only way to get through it.

For the rest of us, we're thankful for our good fortune and pray we won't have to experience a tornado up close.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.

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