2008 storm taught valuable lessons to our community

Wherwe were you on the night of May 29, 2008?
If you were in or around Aurora on that fateful night you likely remember exactly what you were doing when a destructive force blew threw our community, shredding millions of dollars worth of property in a few minutes time. Though a decade has past, the images of damage amongst our friends and neighbors are forever etched into our collective memories.
Thankfully, no lives were lost in that storm, though there was a great deal of anguish left in the wake of what was later described as a series of tornadoes and straight-line winds. A story in this week’s edition takes a look back to that day through the eyes of some of the many storm victims.
With the perspective of time, there were some valuable lessons learned in the 2008 storm, which were repeated just a year or so later in Hamilton County. The most obvious is that tornadoes can and do happen anywhere in the Midwest, thus we need to pay attention when threatening skies loom overhead.
If you don’t have weather alert systems dialed into your cell phone, do it today. If family members, or perhaps neighbors without access to a basement or shelter, aren’t crystal clear on where to go and what to do if a tornado is coming our way, plan a crash course in emergency preparedness. Most of all, pay attention to severe weather alerts!
If you live in Nebraska long enough, chances are you are going to see a twister in some form or fashion. Hopefully it is just a funnel cloud in the distance that never touches down, but we know from experience that the winds of fury can strike any time, anywhere.
I found it interesting in conducting interviews for this week’s front page story that some of the most compelling memories from the 2008 storm didn’t necessarily focus on the destruction, but rather the compassion shown to storm victims. Every person I spoke with shared how much it meant to have friends, neighbors and even complete strangers offering their time and/or money as needed.
“Stuff can be replaced” was a sentiment I heard 10 years ago, and again just two weeks ago after a fire severely damaged a home in Aurora. What matters is having a community’s support when you need it most, and you’ll find that here in small-town Nebraska.
That’s a powerful testimonial for our community. When times get tough, in whatever form, we are there for each other -- no questions asked.
Kurt Johnson

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