BY LEANN DILBECK
Today marks the 5-year anniversary of the infamous 2009 tornado that ravaged our community. This tree quickly emerged as one of the most iconic images of that storm that stood in the epicenter of the destruction and death as well as served as the backdrop for countless TV stations who diverged upon us to report on the damage.
As the new branches and leaves emerge this spring, it is also symbolic of a community that displayed tremendous strength, faith, and resilience in the face of tragedy. Everyday heroes emerged that night and many positive stories have been a result of the storm that have gone on to help other communities rebuild after natural disasters. The Polk County Long Term Recovery Committee not only was instrumental in our community’s rebuilding but has served as a model for other communities and it is our privilege to feature them as this week’s Organization of the Week on page 17. Readers also recount their memories of that fateful night on our “What’s Your Pulse?” Question of the Week on page 23.
Mena Mayor George McKee reflected on that date and told The Pulse, “When the devastating F-3 tornado struck Mena on April 9, 2009, it destroyed homes, properties, and lives; but not the spirit of our Community.
“As we reflect back, we can see the phenomenal progress that has been made in our town. This would not have been possible without the efforts of the countless volunteers that came to our rescue within minutes after the tornado and stayed until things were stable, and the hard work of city crews and property owners.
“It is very heartwarming to know that we live in a country of such caring people that are willing to come from miles away to reach out to our community. On behalf of the City of Mena, I want to say “thank you” for the overwhelming expressions of kindness shown to our city and our citizens in our time of need.
“In many ways we are now better and stronger than ever.”