As the nation learns more about the tragedies in Henryville, Marysville, and Pekin Indiana through unrelenting news coverage, I want to provide some personal perspective. My hometown of Salem, Indiana is only a few miles from the hardest hit areas listed above.
I know these small towns better than I know Bloomington, a town I’ve lived in for five years. I played sports and attended events in these communities growing up. My mother graduated from Eastern High School, the public school in Pekin. Many of my family members live in Pekin today. As I see images of the flattened homes and disarray flash across every news channel, I can cipher which homes were wiped out and which stand almost completely unaffected. Though the media is currently making claims about how random the tornado destruction, as they seems empty slabs of concrete next to unaffected homes, I can say with confidence that the destruction is not random. The homes that are missing, the people that are dead are the ones that live in mobile homes- the folks of a lower class.
The little girl who was found in a field in my hometown of Salem after being swept up from her Pekin home where the rest of her family perished lived in a small trailer, only steps away from homes that stood strong through the 175 mph winds.
My father is now assisting with clean-up in the towns affected while my mother and grandmother (owner of a local insurance agency in Salem) work to ensure that folks in the towns affected get their claims filed to insurance companies (IF they had home insurance). Everyone in the area is working hard to help neighbors most affected by the storms. In the chaos, I wanted to take a moment to make the clear the class distinction that is at play during this entire recuperative process.