Seven Years And Counting...But Never Forgetting

posted by John Baibak - 


It has been a busy week for a lot of reasons throughout the region and by all counts it is probably going to get worse before it gets any better.  

But it is getting better.

It was seven years ago this afternoon, at 4:38pm that a tornado ripped through this area.

The day was quiet.  Uneventful till that moment.

It was like any other day.  Things got done.  People went to work.  People came home.   People got on with their lives.

Except that some people did not.   Some died.   Lives were changed.  Lives were destroyed.

For those of us that worked through the entire early stages of the storm, we will never forget.

Those original calls from newsrooms all across the area.  “Get back here -- there is a tornado!!”

Yea.  Sure there is.

But the closer to Springfield you got that early evening the more you understood.The traffic.  The panic.  

Later a series of events that often rocked your mind.  It was close to midnight when a group of us left our last briefings and headed back downtown to the Mass Mutual Center.  We were spending some time with then US Senator John Kerry who along with other politicians wanted to spend some time with the victims of the devestation.  In the same building, a few feet away, young women in gowns seemingly unaware of what was going on.  Some of them smiling and looking up and wondering aloud “is that John Kerry?”  The prom went on.  No one waited for a response.

People lost their lives.  A mother died protecting her child in West Springfield the most gut wrenching.

Through it all the area has overcome the devastation and although there is still a lot more work to do, at least the region is headed in the right direction.

The naysayers say it is not fast enough.  Those who are looking for a headline say more needs to be done.

But like most Americans in troubled times, we will forget the headlines and deal with the real story.  Somehow, against all eyes we all came together to beat the odds and return to some sort of normalcy.

I would doubt that the events of 2011, on that June 1st afternoon will be recognized by The President or by anyone else who didn’t go through it.

It should.  Because as people bicker about just stuff in DC, on the ground in Western Mass people dropped their allegiances….their political views...their fear of each other to first survive the night. Then the next day.  The Next week….the Next month and then the next year.

We survived.


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