The sight of twisted metal wrapped around trees is growing old.
At the tornado command center yesterday, I heard a lot of words like "phenomenal" to describe the tornadoes' devastation, and "amazing" to describe the fact that no one was found dead in the rubble in this county, though around 20 died in a neighboring county. That's still amazing. So many more people could have died. People whose homes were reduced to splinters or twists of scrap metal on the ground around them survived with barely a scratch.
I can't help but think that's Providence -- God's mercy at work.
For the survivors, the initial shock is wearing off, and they're worrying about rebuilding their lives.
I can't imagine losing my little home in an instant -- just like that. When I heard the sound of the tornado, all I could think about was grabbing my animals and huddling in the bathroom with them: preserving life, which is more important than houses and stuff.
My mind doesn't even want to wrap around the notion of losing the haven of my home, of losing everything from my underwear to irreplaceable treasured photos and heirlooms. Coffee maker, dishes, clothes, bed, everything -- gone. My life as I know it -- gone with the wind.
No wonder survivors spend days and weeks sifting through the rubble, looking for anything salvageable. For the unluckier people, there's not even any rubble to be found. It's been blown all over the neighborhood.
These unluckier people are also the most unfortunate in another sense, for many have no insurance. They have resources to help them find another home, or furniture, or dishes, or underwear, or linens or anything.
People like me would be the lucky survivors. I could look forward to an insurance check to help me get a new place to live, clothing, furniture and the other necessities of life. I live in a little block-and-stucco home.
I would have hope, despite the trauma I'd been through.
Victims of the Christmas Day tornado were almost exclusively mobile-home dwellers, and almost none of them had any insurance. Most of the worst hit in yesterday's early-morning storm were mobile-home dwellers.
Hope isn't a word that can come easily for these storm victims.
None of the insurance companies like to write mobile-home coverage in Florida, and few of the big companies will write any new business at all. For the purchaser of a new mobile-home, insurance is terribly expense, when you can get it, and it's often not very good coverage.
None of the companies will cover older mobile homes. That left these dwellers with no options, no protection.
Why live in a mobile home, especially one more than 10 years old? Economics.
A used mobile home can be purchased for less than the closing costs of a conventional home, never mind the down payment required. So, for as little as around $5,000-$8,000 thousand dollars, you can buy an older-but-decent mobile home and have a roof over your family. It makes economic sense, when that's the most you can scratch up at one time. Once you've moved in, there's no money to put in savings after paying lot rent, utilities and other living expenses.
Some people inherited a mobile home from Aunt Bessie and moved in it with their kids. Some have lived in their mobile homes for 20 years and are elderly and retired, on a limited income.
These are mostly people who were barely getting by before a disaster.
Keep them in your prayers. They are devastated right now. Keep all those who were hurt or killed, and their families in your prayers, too. Thank you for the prayers you've already sent.
In your mercy, Lord, bring the tornado survivors comfort, and give them hope for the future. Heal the wounded, tend to the grieving, and stay right beside them. Let your love be manifest in all who minister to them.
Thank you that you have taken the dead into new life in your kingdom. Help searchers find any living or dead who might remain in the ruins.
Thank you for your mercy.
I will write more about insurance and FEMA, coming up.
[I took these photos the day after the Christmas tornado.]