Throughout the long, howling night of Saturday Dec. 26, Jim and Stephen crouched in their storm shelter as 11 tornadoes roared through Garland, TX and the Dallas Metroplex.
In a story told to a colleague, the two men described it as “hell on earth”. When they emerged and gazed around, not only were they missing a home but pretty much the entire neighborhood. The surprising tenderness however occurred in the early morning hours. Here is their story.
They woke around 6am to a rapping on the weighted door of their shelter.The sound was strange and unnerving as the weather outside was still very stormy. They unbolted the door and were greeted by a gentleman with a giant umbrella, briefcase and a large carry bag of Dunkin Donuts from nearby Meadowcreek Village.
“You got room for one more? It's nasty up here,” the man hollered.
He clambered down and the three began to talk about the night, wondering aloud about the damages at the local schools, how people would be getting around. The unidentified man said he had walked the last several blocks to see them because the neighborhood streets were blocked.
They didn't find out who he was until he prepared to leave. Surprise: He represented their insurance agency, U.S.A.A. He handed them large sum gift-cards from Target, Wal-Mart, Tom Thumb, Albertsons and Aldi. He told them that both car rentals and home demolition had been arranged. The rental cars would be delivered later in the day and the demolition team was scheduled for Monday afternoon. But the demo team would be preceded by a reclamation team to gather as much as possible that survived in the ruins of their home.
Jim gulped back tears as they sat there looking at several thousands of dollars worth of gift cards, paperwork and phone contacts for their prearranged vehicles, reclamation team, demolition team and for the nearby storage facility where whatever could be salvaged would be put until their home was rebuilt.
To date, they have no idea if the gentleman from U.S.A.A. was taking it on himself to address the critical need for assistance in the area or if it is a company norm... but in the midst of such chaos, destruction, death and loss… the tenderness of this person-to-person touch revived belief in neighborly goodness and corporate care-taking.
This might be a good lesson and resolution to carry forward into 2016.Remember, it doesn’t take a disaster to bring out human tenderness and kindness.
P.S. Just found out that, U.S.A.A arranged for an extended stay hotel at the nearby
Holiday Inn Express.It was more expensive than other choices but the closest to their home!It’s been nothing short of a miracle the way they have been treated!
PPS: Resiliency and recovery go hand-in-hand. However, the hand-up from others aids the task
*Photo courtesy of Sergey Nivens