McPherson Scots Talk The Clans and Associates of the McPherson Scottish Festival & Games

September 3, 2007

Disasters — The Greensburg Tornado

Filed under: Events — Clan Chairman @ 9:23 pm

How was it for the people of New York during 911 vs. the people of Greensburg, KS on the 14th of May, 2005 after the tornado ? Both events are unimaginable unless you were there and many that were may still be in disbelief. You might ask why is this on a Scottish blog? I was approached by a newspaper from Glasgow about whether there are any Scot’s that were living in Greensburg at the time of the tornado. I was impressed that people from so far would care to inquire of those who’s lives have been affected across the sea.

firemen911.jpgTornado Destruction

One thing is for sure things are not the same for any of use as they used to be. I pray that the rest of us do not have to endure these kinds of tragedies in our lives, but as sure as these two events happened there will be others some even more horrific than these. The positive side of any tragedy like these is mans resilience, his ability to overcome adversity and his compassion for those who have suffered.

In both cases families suffered great losses, whole communities, yea nations have felt the pain. In many ways these two events were the same and yet in others they are quite different. If you ask any individual who was there at either event I am sure they would not be able to imagine anything worse. However, the world changed a little forever in each case.

The greatest factor of difference during 911 is that it was a terrorist attack, something that was inflicted men against men. These types of confrontations foster distrust of one another and fear that someone may do harm to our society again. Greensburg was a natural disaster, leaving one with a sense of awe. The thing that sets Greensburg apart from other natural disasters is the totality of destruction. The community is gone, there is none left unaffected. In a disaster like 911 the community recovers, but with Greensburg there is nothing left to recover, all that once defined the community is now gone. Many of the survivors have left never to rebuild, and yet the whole world feels their pain. Just as in terrorist attacks we all know that we have a common thread with the rest of the world. News media from around the world reported on the Tornado just as if it had happened to them. Relief groups and governments are continuing to provide support to the people of Greensburg. The response of the public to the victims of 911 gave finical security to many of the victims families as it should, but I do not know of that kind of support for the victims of Greensburg that have lost everything. Katrina victims lost much when the hurricane launched its attack on the Gulf coast. Its destruction was wide spread and recovery is slow.

It is true that 3000+ died in the 911 disaster, where thankfully only 12 died and many others injured, but in Greensburg the whole community died. Twelve to fourteen hundred of 1400 people were killed injured or displaced. Consider what the effect would have been if all of New York City was destroyed. The impact on the world would have been much greater, but would it have been any worse for the victims and their families? It is sometimes hard for those of us that have been spared the pain and grief of such disasters to remember how blessed that we are.

I am impressed with the resilience of the Greensburg people to rebuild and the surrounding communities that are working around the clock to provide relief. We cannot forget those that have suffered these loses least we lose our own humanity, because I believe that it is this that makes us great. For if we cannot work together in times of crisis then we are surely lost, for hope in only ourselves is very hollow. May God help us to remember those who are in pain and suffering.

May we keep in good Scottish tradition and remember our fellow clansmen where ever they may be, and come to their aid in humility.

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