EDITORIAL: Tornado long gone, but memories linger

Apr. 16, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Certain events make indelible and emotional impressions on our minds.

For those who were alive in the early 1960s, we remember where we were when we heard about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

For those of us a little younger, we remember where we were when we learned the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon were attacked by terrorists.

And for those who were in Sanford two years ago on this date, we remember where we were when a tornado struck our city and caused great havoc. Two people perished. Businesses and residential areas saw major destruction.

Some of us were victims. The force and the sound of that tornado were not to be forgotten, as was the case with the eerie calm after the winds subsided. We remember the countless others who were heroes and came to the rescue of those in need. So many offered much-needed assistance.

The storm toppled buildings, displaced families and shook nerves to their breaking point. But the community's spirit was left very much intact. We who lived through the chaos could never give enough thanks to the organizations and individuals who tirelessly worked on our behalf — giving of themselves patiently and compassionately to offer victims some precious peace of mind and a helping hand.

It was a time when political persuasion was put aside. Our citizens were unified in assisting those who needed help and in doing what needed to be done in bringing us back to a better place than where we were that dark afternoon.

Now, two years later, our community has rebounded nicely. Many of those businesses that were destroyed have rebuilt. Residential areas that were hit are surging back.

For some, the storm didn’t create an emotional response; indeed there are some who might not note today’s date, or remember that April 16 is the second anniversary of the Lee County tornado. But for most of us, we’ll have this date forever emblazoned on our minds. While much has been rebuilt, physical reminders remain from that fateful day. Some survivors still live with mental scars.

We can be grateful that our community has come back even better and stronger — and our thoughts are with those still struggling in the aftermath of that terrible tornado.

This is an anniversary that we wish we didn't have to remember.