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Marengo folks show strength

The headline on the front page of last week’s Clarion News special section read ‘From Shock To Reality.’ This week’s headline easily could have been ‘Generosity Pours Into Marengo.’
Having grown up spending plenty of weekends in Marengo while visiting family, and having since spent even more time there as an adult, covering the town and county for nearly a decade, I found the outpouring of support simply amazing.
Our little section of Southern Indiana showed its hospitality through donations, in money, food and clothing. But maybe even more astounding is how quickly friends, family, neighbors and, best of all, strangers came to Marengo to make sure everyone was safe and to begin the long process of cleaning up.
When I arrived in Marengo about two hours after the tornado touched down on Sunday, May 30, I was shocked. I remember talking to a Marengo volunteer firefighter and, a couple of questions into the interview, losing my train of thought.
After the interview, I walked through town, and, as last week’s headline said, my shock turned to reality. Even though the destruction made me sick to my stomach, I was also reassured. Everywhere I turned, volunteers were already in town, doing what they could to help get Marengo back on its feet. Many have been there since.
Maybe I’m a bit a naive, but I don’t believe that would happen in every community. I believe there is something special about people in this area, specifically Crawford County.
It is a small enough community that if everyone does not know everyone else, they know somebody in their family or one of their friends. And that’s good enough for most people to jump in and help in a time of crisis.
Maybe it’s because Crawford Countians have seen their share of tragedy in the past. The people in English remember the massive floods of 1990, 1979 and earlier, while residents of Milltown have also experienced their share of devastating high waters.
But it hasn’t just been Crawford County that has responded. Volunteers from Harrison and other neighboring counties, perhaps remembering the destruction of the 1974 tornadoes that left a mark in their areas, have come to clear debris and do what they can to help their neighbors.
Outside donations have poured in to the Red Cross emergency shelter at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School. Shoppers at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Corydon have filled large boxes with donated groceries. Several businesses and organizations ‘ too many to name ‘ have also assisted.
The Bible’s Book of James tells us to be joyful when we fall into various trials, ‘knowing that the testing of (our) faith produces patience.’ It is not the trials that make us stronger, but how we respond to them that tells us who we really are.
What happened last Sunday shortly after 3 p.m. is a tragedy and has forever changed the little town of Marengo, but the response from the people of Crawford County and their neighbors has left an ever bigger mark. How they have responded tells who they are.
I didn’t expect anything different.

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