I didn't know what to expect when I saw my home town for the first time in six months after the tornado. The last time I had seen it (this June) I couldn't recognize streets, houses (there were none left), or anything really. In fact, I dreaded having to see it; it just hurt too much. But when my dad and I pulled over the hill above town on Christmas day, I was amazed.
In just under seven months my town went from being completely flattened and unrecognizable to almost normal. Over 300 homes were completely totaled but there are nearly 200 that are completely up or being constructed. If I didn't know what had happened on Memorial Day weekend, I wouldn't have known that Parkersburg had been hit. It just looks like a new subdivision right now with beautiful new homes and amazing new high school. There is still a long way to go in terms of construction, but I'm amazed at what I have seen so far.
The other interesting thing is that the spirit of my little home town hasn't changed a bit. People are still upbeat and positive. Sure the conversations now are all about the building process, but generally speaking it's as positive as it always has been, and these people lost everything.
It's amazing. I know the people in the rebuilding process, including my parents, don't feel like it's going very fast, but it really is. Consider Katrina... that happened nearly four years ago and there are still so many families without homes. This tornado hit my home town just last May and already a good chunk of the town is rebuilt. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.
As my mom would say, it really is a miracle.
Needless to say it was extra special to be home for Christmas this year. All of my brothers made it and we all got together at my parents' temporary home. Amazingly enough it still felt like home, it still felt like Christmas, it still felt normal. This is a gift for which I'll forever be grateful.
Now if only my bags would surface... I was one of the many who got stuck in Chicago on Christmas Eve and my bags have still yet to surface... small potatoes, I know, but it really would be nice to have my underwear! :)
Merry Christmas! :)