On April 3, 1974 a severe tornado struck Brandenburg, I was approaching 13 years old at the time and growing up in nearby Louisville, KY.
When I arrived in Brandenburg with a small group of volunteers I was struck by the systematic approach to provide aid and supply to those who suffered damage, loss of home, life. The National Guard had erected tents which were filled with clothes and other essentials. They secured areas from looting, managed road and regional access, and assisted wherever graciously. I still remember eating the rather tasty hamburgers, potato salad and beans in the temporary mess hall they erected.
These citizen soldiers were a clear icon of relief for the devastated community, responding quickly to natural catastrophes, and with pride and patience, as they were asked to leave jobs and family on little notice, despite the professional soldier was in 1974 converging on their tours of duty in Vietnam.
At 13, it was the closest I'd of gotten to a soldier in action and was stimulated to believe in the cause of the country, and the good will of humankind. It is that insistence to help your failing neighbor that forms a glue that propels us socially.
We've seen tornadoes skip through the Red River Valley recently, prompting my recollection of the April 1974 low pressure maelstrom that reached widely that year [NOAA]. Anyone whose been close or in a tornado knows the gut wrenching self-awareness and concern that festers just before it strikes.
As with the recent Hugo, MN tornado, and that in Northwood, ND, a large reception of volunteers were quickly realized to aid in the catastrophes, in fact, many were encouraged to register when those who had not were denied their heart-felt intent to assist.
However, the RRV is a flood-prone area, and many of us know first hand of the powerful nature of the raging Red. We've seen friends, college students, neighbors regularly come together to assist neighbors they'd never known previously, sometimes laughing while they work on bag lines, and battling together because of that shared social glue. And the Guard was available to help, thank you! but as Cedar Falls, IA was inundated with water, I am struck that their direct role is not realized, as to suggest absent?
This writing then is to ask, where is the citizen solider today, as much of our nation is consumed this spring by severe weather, and I seek any input to suggest otherwise that our National Guard is not as available to help directly with the local wars caused by mother nature?