Sarah Stultz: In times of trouble, people come together

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, March 7, 2017

“We’re in a tornado watch — in March?” I asked myself Monday afternoon after seeing information online about a potential for dangerous weather.

I have seen my share of bad weather in the area and have learned not to get too comfortable in Minnesota because you never know what might happen. But a tornado in March? When’s the last time that happened?

I posted the information available from the National Weather Service on the Tribune’s website — hoping it was just a false alarm — and headed to a few other appointments before I could go home for a somewhat relaxing evening.

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An hour or two later, it started thundering, and the sky looked uneasy. 

“This doesn’t look good,” I thought to myself as I walked into City Hall for my last appointment of the day. The clouds were moving fast, the humidity had returned and there was a weird feeling in the air. People across the street were outside of the building looking up into the sky.

At that point, I knew it was only going to be a matter of a few minutes before it would all begin.

Briefly, I thought back to June 17, 2010, the day multiple tornadoes came through the area, leaving destruction in their wake. Though much warmer that day, that same unsettled feeling was in the air, and I hoped it wouldn’t be a repeat of that day.                                                                 

As a journalist, I think about those experiences often from seven years ago when I drive through certain parts of the county. People endured so much that night and in the weeks and months that followed — whether it was the loss of homes or even the loss of a loved one for one family.

As I sat in City Hall, it began to downpour. I thought, “Do I wait it out, or just make a run for it out to my car so I can get home?”

After waiting a few minutes, I decided to make a dash to the car — getting soaked in the process — and then drove home and ran in the house.

I turned on the television news to find that damage was being reported in Clarks Grove, and though it had not been verified, there was a chance there was a tornado.

I knew that was my cue, and I ventured out to find out what was going on.

Though many questions remained Monday night and answers will surface today as daylight comes, I gained a renewed respect for the first responders, firefighters and law enforcement personnel who worked into the night to make sure that everyone was OK.

As I drove on Interstate 35 north toward Clarks Grove, I started to see flashing lights off to the west of the interstate as I got closer. All other electricity was out, but our hometown heroes were there in full force.

Though it will likely be another long day and week and months to come for many people in Clarks Grove, I am already hearing stories of people helping each other. I’m grateful to live in an area where people show this kindness toward each other.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears evert Tuesday.