So we are heading into week three of June, and summer is busting out all over the meadows and suburbs of Kansas City. If you’ve survived the Kansas “monsoon season,” put your arm in the air, reach back and give yourself a pat. It’s been a doozy. For those of you who have experienced loss from the tornadoes and floods — in typical Midwestern fashion, we’re sending prayers and bottled water your way.
Which brings me to my soapbox. My big, sturdy soapbox that hasn’t been approached in some time.
But I’ve been pushed to the edge of my tolerance and need to address the public.
On May 28, after the last tornado wreaked havoc through our beloved city, some people were acting like imbeciles. Yes, in Kansas and Missouri – idiots reside. Evil hit the Midwest, and sometimes in the surprising form of volunteers.
When residents and members of the farming community were ravaged by 170 mph winds, stretching from outside Baldwin City to Linwood, Kansas, good people were taken advantage of. People claiming to have souls volunteered to help people who were at their lowest and stole from them.
One good man was helping out folks in Linwood. He loaded up his truck with his chainsaw, and headed to aid those in need. When he was away from his truck, the unimaginable happened. Someone stole the very chainsaw he so lovingly was going to use. How can people be so awful?
Another incident took place in Douglas County. At one point, the volunteers had to be reorganized. Apparently, too many people were showing up at the disaster sites treating people’s property like large-trash day. “Curbside boutique-ers” showed up and nonchalantly helped themselves to other people’s possessions. When did this behavior become OK?
Luckily, there are more feel-good tornado stories than the other embarrassments. For example, in Lawrence, high school journalism and yearbook students offered to help any victim by salvaging their damaged family photos. Using their Photoshop skills, teens were able to repair items that may have otherwise been lost.
When word got out that a popular Eudora asparagus farm once again took a direct hit from an EF-4, the community rallied. A GoFundMe page was immediately established to help rebuild their barns and make up for lost profits. Almost $25,000 has been raised in only two weeks. It’s like a modern day “It’s a Wonderful Life” scene. The support for this humble family-operated farm reminds me of when the Bedford Falls townspeople rushed to the large wicker basket handing over fistfuls of their cash to save their friend from financial ruin.
The day after the wreckage to Pendleton’s County Market, more than 100 volunteers showed up to help clean up. Day after day, people continue to reach out to them. Overall, it’s clear that goodness wins. There may have been a few bad seeds in this disaster mix, but kindness prevailed. The heart shown by the majority of volunteers is what makes this the heartland of the country and gives me hope once again.
Stacey Hatton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.