Windblown brothers, sisters unite

Published 12:30 am Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cleanup for our neighbors to the north will last months and maybe even years as those whose lives were ripped apart by a massive tornado eight days ago try to put the pieces back together.

Ten Mississippians died and millions of dollars in damage was done by one of the most powerful twisters to hit the state. The twister hit Transylvania, La., crossed the Mississippi River into the Eagle Lake area then crafted a 150-mile swath of destruction through the state.

In the aftermath of any destruction the size and scope of this one, stories of tremendous heroism rise from the rubble.

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• Curt Hickson, a Gulf Coast resident visiting relatives on Sea Island, alerted his relatives of the oncoming winds, then covered his two nephews with his body to shield them from debris.

• Nikki Carpenter, a single mother of three young boys in Yazoo City, moved to the center of the trailer in which she lived, covered the children with pillows, then covered the pillows with herself. Winds hoisted and threw the trailer nearly the length of a football field.

The children had broken bones and bruises. Nikki Carpenter died at 31.

In the days immediately following the storm, we Mississippians again sprung into action, as we seemingly do every time others are in need. Food and clothing drives were organized in towns all around. The AmeriCorps volunteers stationed in Vicksburg traveled to Yazoo City to give any assistance it could. People from far and wide have sent money and supplies.

As we go about our daily lives, we hear a constant drumbeat of why we shouldn’t get along. Our differences are accentuated and used as a tool to divide us further.

Shameful it takes something like this, a storm with top wind speeds of 170 mph, to get us back on the same page.

Storms have no concerns with race, finances, family situation or political affiliation. Storms have no direct target, only those unfortunate enough to be living in its path.

Had that tornado eight days ago been 20 miles to the south, Vicksburg may be in ruins, alongside Bovina and Edwards and everywhere in between.

The stories of heroism would be similar although the names would be different. The aftermath would again provide an opportunity to realize we are a family and as hard as some work to keep us apart, when a family member takes a hit, the brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, related or not, answer the call and we become one again.

Sean P. Murphy is web editor. He can be reached at