Tornado helped shape Suffolk

Published 11:31 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

Nobody who lived in Suffolk on April 28, 2008, will ever forget the horrible storm and its aftermath.

Folks who describe their memories talk about seeing the funnel cloud, taking shelter in bathrooms and closets and later coming out to survey the damage. They describe the terrible noise, how scared they were and how they couldn’t get in touch with family. They say how long they had to live elsewhere while their lives were rebuilt. Many still suffer to this day during severe storms due to their memories.

Suffolk changed on April 28, 2008. It looked different not just that day but for months and years afterward, and not just because of what the storm tore apart but also because of what it knit together.

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Friendships became stronger. Family members appreciated each other maybe just a little bit more and didn’t take each other for granted. People got to know their neighbors more when they reached out with help or relied on them for help.

Folks who have lived in Suffolk for 10 or more years will always have this in their memory. But for thousands who have moved here since then, or will live here in the future, the tornado will be a distant but tangible thing that helped shape the community where they live not just physically but emotionally as well.

Of course, it would have been better if the tornado never happened. Many lives were upended, injuries suffered and property damaged. We certainly hope it never happens again.

However, Suffolk is a better, stronger city for having endured the tornado. That’s the mark of what’s truly a community rather than just a bunch of people living near each other.