Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Joy of Making a Difference - Finding Hope in Times of Tragedy

Pixel Blue Eyes is back from a much too long hiatus. It feels so good to get back into sharing my 'tails of adventure' again. This 'tail' is a bit different than my other ones. See, my sweet family and I have had some pretty intense events happen in our lives in the last few months, and that is why I have been amiss for a while.  One of the biggest things to occur was on April 27-28, 2011. Although that was a few months ago, this is an important 'tail' to tell...of finding hope in a time of tragedy.
It was the night when horrible tornadoes tore through several states including Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and our wonderful Appalachian mountains of southwest Virginia. They came within miles of our house. They say it was the biggest tornado outbreak in U.S. history, and there was a bunch of them. My family and I spent most of the night in the basement, with me inside my 'puppy pouch' that Mommy wears so I can be right there with her. Now, understand that it was 4 humans and 6 dogs and cats all crammed into a smaller-than-comfortable area. We spent hours down there. Mommy kept getting weather updates on her cell phone and it kept giving us tornado warnings. It was really scary. I just hid my face while Mommy cuddled me. I know a lot of families did the same thing that night. That phone kept beeping at us and everyone seemed really nervous. Even after we all went back upstairs after midnight, my mommy and I stayed up most of that fateful night scared of what we heard outside, as the tornadoes created a massive path of tortuous devastation right near our home.
Our neighbors and surrounding communities were hit HARD. The morning after the tornadoes, it was like a horror show for mass destruction. The interstate had cars and tractor trailers strewn like dog bones and toys because the local truck stop was right in the path of one of those tornadoes. Houses were absolutely gutted, there were roofs torn off of buildings, businesses were reduced to rubble, not to mention all the siding, insulation and large metal pieces of buildings that were wrapped around bent, twisted, torn apart trees. Mommy says it was like the trees were just snapped in two. Some people and pets in our area died that night. It was an absolute nightmare.
Mommy and I, our family and hundreds of people all around our area went into immediate action to help out. People started collecting food, water, basic need supplies, pet supplies, just anything that would help the dear victims who lost everything in mere minutes. People opened up their homes and hearts in wonderfully selfless ways. Mommy helped coordinate part of the relief efforts at her work place. She took care of the collections for the pet food and supplies that were so desperately needed, and I helped her with ideas of things that dogs and cats might find comfort in during such a difficult time. It was a real joy to find ways to make a small difference for people and pets who had lost so much.
We have been supporting the local animal shelter closest to the devastation, which is run by a truly caring group of people, and have also been supporting and working with a wonderful non profit group called Saving Furry Friends...talk about the perfect name! No doubt as to what their mission is! Right after the tornadoes, they assisted in finding lost pets, horses and livestock and found temporary shelters for them. They helped reunite pets and their loved ones - people who lost everything found hope with those wonderful reunions. Saving Furry Friends and our local shelters have done so much to help the little animal victims in our community. They spend their days rescuing and caring for abandoned pets, giving them much needed medical attention, shelter, food, and love. They strive to find good, loving homes for pets to start a new life and family to thrive in, just like I found with my Mommy.
The entire community where we live rushed in to help and even though it has been almost 3 months since the tornadoes, they haven't slowed down yet. Neighbors helping neighbors, church groups have helped from far and wide, and people who lost their homes still jumped in to assist with the cleanup of the neighborhoods. Even complete strangers have shown up, ready to help out and make a difference. People have donated building supplies, dog houses, grocery stores came into the hardest hit areas with truckloads of water and food. Everyone found ways to help each other out, and they were the better for it. My own veterinary clinic that has taken care of me for years also helped a lot of the hurt and injured pets that became victims of the tornado too! I am so proud to live where I do.
It has been almost three months now since the tornadoes happened. The national news has moved on to other stories, but you can still see the path of devastation when you drive down the highway.  But things are getting better. Homes are getting rebuilt, roofs are being replaced, and by golly, the Glade Spring veterinary clinic already has a new building! It has been quite an experience. Remember that truck stop I mentioned that got hit directly? Well, it is back open now and business is booming!
Mommy and I still get a little nervous if a bad storm comes our way, but we know that no matter what, we will be okay. We found that the best way to deal with tragedy, whether you are the victim or not, is to reach out. No matter how bad things might seem, they will get better. They have to...and we can help each other make it happen. It doesn't matter if you are big or small, together we can all make a difference.

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