Four Tornadoes rip a small town
At least 4 tornadoes touched down yesterday (April 29, 2017) in Canton Texas, a small town in East Texas with a population of 3578 and an average income of $40,000 per household. Canton and its vicinity were ripped apart by these four tornadoes. Four people lost their lives and several lives are devastated with the loss of their only dwelling including their automobiles.
According to KXAS-NBC5 TV, the tornado that struck Canton was up to a half-mile wide as it ripped a 40-mile path along, also striking Fruitvale and Emory (KXAS). Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the damage was “devastating” during a news conference with local officials Sunday afternoon. “You saw homes and other buildings that were incompletely flattened, as well as others that were nothing more than rubble,” he said, adding that he saw “large swath after large swath of devastation.” Power was knocked down and according to estimates; it may take 10-14 days to resume power.
An Opportunity to give
As immigrants, we have this opportunity to do for these local people who are affected because of catastrophe. When any catastrophe strikes, we tend to gravitate towards India or the place where we come from. However, we have to develop a special connection with our adopted land or country. Crisis such as this will offer the locals understand our philanthropy, culture and our shared sentiments during times of their pain.
In an interview with NBC News over the phone, Governor Abbott has suggested, rather than giving clothes etc., people can donate money to those affected by the storm. We all should contribute towards these efforts. Contribution can be helping the cleanup efforts, working towards rebuilding efforts and doing anything that will get their lives on track.
Time to act, time to connect
As a first step, I reached out to my farm neighbors (In Canton) and people who work with me in Canton. One of those was Keith (second name not disclosed). His father is on oxygen due to long standing emphysema. Power outage has forced Keith to buy a generator and Keith cannot afford that. I bought one to be loaned to him until power is restored.
Tomorrow (May 1, 2017), I will be driving to Canton and taking a first-hand account of the devastation. I will get to know how many are affected and what best can be done to help them. In the interim, we all can contribute efforts, funds and material. Funds would be either channelized through Government Agency such as USDA’s Rural Development or local Churches. As always, I will make my best efforts in bringing transparency and visibility on the funds and their utilization.
Updates from Canton – Officer Ron Duke’s Spine Chilling Story in his own words (http://wp.me/p7XEWW-So)
Activities that can be covered (not an exhaustive list) are
Short Term: Life Saving and Immediate Needs
- Addressing any immediate health needs (such as Keith’s father)
- Rebuilding homes (material expenses)
- Food and Water supply during rebuilding
- Other household items
Mid/Long Term – Enabling those affected back to work
- Financial assistance for reestablishing work
- Financial assistance for establishing mobility
In my personal discussion with several folks within our Indian and Asian diaspora, specifically from the Information Technology and those owning Businesses, have offered help. We have formed a small committee and are directing the efforts through these folks, you may assist them with their specific activities. As of this writing (Sunday April 30, 2017), since this happened on Saturday April 29, we still are working on a formal structure to direct this help. Updates will be provided as those are available as an addendum to this paragraph.
A story of Urban-Rural Divide
Coincidently, Canton is also a place where we have our farm/ranch. Canton is a place which has got me closer to the heart of America. It is this place which opened my perspective on America. Urban US are different from countryside and it is this place that opened the doors for me towards the countryside. Unlike urban people, who are matter of fact and business like, countryside offers the charm of connecting with people and understanding their culture and values. I was surprised, unlike what we hear back in India and abroad, these people are very warm, receptive and hold the same cultural values as we all do. This is the place for my connection with real America.
Selected News Reports on April 29 tornadoes
The Story of Canton and Van Zandt County.
It is a small town with population of 3578 and an average family income of $40,000 per annum. An interesting story of Canton can be found on Wikipedia. Canton is the county seat for Van Zandt County (district), most famous for its First Monday Trade Day, a flea market or Trade Fair that started in 1850. The flea market attracts local artisans, business and farmers from across East and South Texas, Southern Oklahoma, Arkansas and has approximately 100,000 businesses transact trade. Other places in the vicinity, such as Edom and Ben Wheeler are famous its red soil and tomatoes, grand Saline for its Morton Salt quarries and Van for its 50 year old oil Rigs.
Visit First Monday Trade Days. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Monday_Trade_Days