The best from the worst

Published 10:49 pm Monday, October 27, 2008

It seems to be true so often, yet each time we greet the revelation with surprise: The worst of times can bring out the best in people.

Six months ago today, Suffolk proved the adage, as friends and neighbors joined with strangers and passersby to dig out the stunned residents of Driver, Hillpoint, Burnett’s Mill and other areas following an unusually large Virginia tornado.

Not until the dust had settled did the world learn the miracle: Despite the fact that scores of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, despite more than $20 million worth of insurance losses, and despite the close proximity of a hospital and a couple of schools to the twister’s path — despite all of that, no one was killed and fewer than 10 were injured badly enough to be admitted to the hospital.

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After the storm had passed, Suffolk residents pulled together with volunteers from all over Hampton Roads to begin search-and-rescue operations and to start cleaning up the mess that was left behind.

The helicopter footage left people throughout the area with their mouths agape, even more so when they heard the news about the lack of fatalities.

Today, most of the debris is gone, and those who intend to rebuild are either dealing with insurance companies or are moving along in the reconstruction process. Some have even completed the repairs and continued their lives as before.

None who were there that day, however, are ever likely to look at a sky full of angry, dark clouds quite the same. Nor are they as likely to take for granted their neighbors, for they have seen the best from them during the worst of times. Such situations are known to create lifelong friendships between former strangers.