On the night and morning of March 2 and 3, tornadoes struck the Nashville, Tennessee area with ferocious effect. The twisters claimed 25 lives, injured more than 300, and destroyed homes and buildings and businesses on a large scale.
As the city mourned its dead and surveyed the wreckage it had to deal with, a strange phenomenon associated with all large tragedies of this sort started happening. People pulled together to help each other through it.
As neighbors helped each other dig out and clean up homes and yards, businesses stepped in on a larger scale. The Kroger Foundation donated large sums of cash to the American Red Cross’ relief efforts and also provided truckloads of food and supplies to local food banks. U-Haul offered one month’s free storage for victims who needed a place to store belongings until they could find a more permanent solution.
Airbnb activated what it calls its Open Homes Program that matches hosts willing to provide free housing with those displaced by the tornadoes. Planet Fitness opened 14 facilities in the area to allow those impacted to use the facilities for free. Sometimes a place to take a hot shower is all you need to get you through a nightmare like this.
Shoney’s offered free meals to first responders and impacted victims of the storm for several days after the initial destruction. AT&T waived overage fees on talk, text and data in the affected areas. Lyft offered discounted rides.
Little Caesars offered free pizzas. A local brewery offered temporary jobs to those needing to supplement or replace lost income due to the storm.
And a local hospital waived all patient out-of-pocket medical fees for victims who were hurt.
You can point to examples of other natural disasters around the country and you will see the same response from neighbors, organizations and relief agencies. No victim is asked which political party they belong to, or who they voted for, or what their views are on this or that cultural tension point, in order to receive help.
Our better natures always rise to the surface at such times, and God’s grace pours through ordinary people to bless those in genuine need. Why does it always seem to take disasters and tragedies for this to occur? God’s people have always been engaged at such times, of course, but it also appears that almost everyone catches the selfless spirit of helping. Maybe it’s God’s way of showing His spark within each of us and drawing us all to the Cross.
Maybe it’s as simple as the impact we all feel when we truly realize, “That could have been me.”
As Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood fame once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Nashville has seen lots of helpers in its midst this week. May those hurt in the storm recover quickly, and those grieving for lost loved ones be comforted. Above all, may God be glorified.