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Looking east on 20th, just east of Main, shows some of the extent of the damage. The downed lines some- times took weeks to finally get to.


First: They self rescued, if it was


possible. Got their families, etc. un- der control. Dug themselves out, did first aid, got themselves sorted out as best they could. Second: They moved to neighbors,


helped them as they could finding family, dogs, clothing to wear (it was raining hard) and trying to arrange for temporary shelter of some kind. Third: Neighborhoods immedi-


ately banded together forming mini- governments, those in better shape handled heavy moving, people stock- piled food they had, water and such. This was all done in the first hours, mind you, in heavy rain. Fourth: Emergency services be-


gan to respond in force immediately, spreading to all parts. Adjoining agencies didn’t ask; they just came. Keep in mind the completely flat-


tened area is about 3/4 miles wide by 6 miles long, right through the south- ern-center of town. There was no way government crews could handle this, so citizens remained an integral part of the rescue operation from the mo- ment it happened. There was no whin- ing, no complaining, “Hey, where are the cops!?” — they just dug out, then went to work, helping emergency per- sonnel whenever possible. I watched one young man walking


along a sidewalk with a pruning saw. He was methodically clearing branch- es from the sidewalk so it was clear for people to move safely since the streets were still cluttered and busy. A friend of mine said, after the


tornado hit, it took him almost 45 minutes to get to his elderly mom’s home in town. Once there, he and his brother dug through rubble calling for


her. They finally heard her say, “You nitwits, you’re standing on me.” They dug their 75-year-old mom out, put a towel around her shoulders and held a board over her head to keep the rain off. “Go across the street and help those people,” she told him, pointing. “They’re old and need help.” Can you say “Midwest can-do” attitude? People were surprisingly positive.


Lots of American flags and signs saying “We’re here to stay and going to rebuild” and such appeared. Also, lots of signs saying, “Looters will be shot. Survivors shot again.” However, my cop contacts said there were very few looter problems, they were quickly handled by cops or citizens and turned out in each case to be local career criminal types or people who came from out of town. I continued to help in town for the


Trucks weighing tons were tossed around like toys, ground up and then spit out by the tornado.


38 REALITY CHECK • 2012 SPECIAL EDITION


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