A Letter to the Illinois Tornado Survivors

Dear Tornado Surivors,

Dear fellow tornado survivors I know that you have a lot of things of going through your mind. I know you also have the range of motions going through your mind. You are trying to find all what is near and dear to your heart. You are trying to find what is left of the life you once knew. You are trying to keep things “Normal” for your children. You want to keep things for your children as normal as possible but also to the point where they know they feel safe. The emotions that you are dealing with are normal, and yes you will go through each stage of grief at one point or another. I know because I possibly went through all but at totally different times. Cry it is okay, but know this, God loves you. He loves you so much that he chose to die for you, so that you could one day have eternal life.

Your storm story is also important. These stories are what you know and how much of a blessing you can be to others. It is okay to tell your story over and over again until you know that it brings blessings to others. The stories that you have need to be written down. The memories that you also gain from this journey will be with you to share with other survivors just as I am sharing with you. You see because I am one of you too.

As you search for temporary housing. Let this be a place to heal. To heal from the hurt and pain you have been in. The temporary house may not be what you dream of or perhaps it is three times smaller than what you are used to. Clothes that are being donated are not all going to be in your size. You cannot find what you need at your Hope Mission at all. You cannot even tell your story without crying without giving God the credit for protecting you. Yet as a survivor you know there are others out there who know the one you are walking down. You know that the survivors are in Moore,OK; Joplin, MO; Tuscaloosa, AL; and many other places who have walked down this journey.

As this journey starts I know how hard it is. I know because I have walked this path before. I know because God used it to bring my boyfriend (now husband) and I to get married. This journey yes, will be hard but what a story that you will be able to tell others and tell of what God has been doing for you and your family. Yes, family keepsakes have been lost but what matters most is that everyone is still with you. This is a miracle. The survivorship story still continues, but the victim is unable to push through and breakthrough into survivorship. A survivor knows how to be strong. A survivor heals in a way that helps others and helps them heal.

Yes, there will be other things that will captivate your attention such as a FEMA number you need to ge things or perhaps paperwork to turn in at other points about many other things. Remember as this journey begins God is with you, and will be walking with you on this path. Struggles with certain things will be there but yet there are blessings ahead on this journey. This journey yes sometimes takes years but yet God is one who orchestrates it in such a way that you know it is him.

After the first year or two is over with there will be things you will be ready for the following years in tornado preparation. Preparing will be one thing that is detrimental to your family. Yes, some will not understand and yet some will understand. It is important to begin to prepare for the future of disaster events especially when it is concerning a tornado. It is hard to not prepare and be ready. Preparation is the key to any disaster area. This means to have a bag ready to go with all the important paperwork in it. Helmets for head protection if you have not a place to seek shelter. There are so many things to do when you have to prepare for a disaster.

Healing is important to you and your family. If you have symptoms of depression, stress, perhaps flashbacks from the tornado that took your home. Please do not be afraid to seek help. This is something that will be of tremendous value to you. These feelings and emotions point to the fact that you need to have professional help. This something that Joplin was wonderful in doing, and I hope that you realize that that asking for help is not being weak but being someone who wants to heal from a tramatic experience. Healing is important, I know, I know I have repeated it over and over, but as a survivor who has seen other survivors struggle with many things after the storm.

I know many things are running through your mind. Take time to dive into God’s Word. Take time to listen to uplifting music that honors God. Take time to pick up a fiction book and escape to read. Take time to relax with your family because the bonds will become stronger as the healing process is healing you as a family.

Sincerely, Sarah
Joplin Tornado Survivor,2011

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