Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo

OUR OPINION: Tornado response shows Mississippi at her best

Daily Journal Editorial Board

The tornadoes that ripped across Mississippi last Friday left a trail of devastation and despair. People lost homes, businesses, valuables and — tragically — their lives. In some areas, it looked as if their entire worlds had been wiped away.

But even before the sun rose on Saturday, hundreds of Mississippians were on the ground throughout the state as rescue and recovery efforts began. The impacted areas soon became the focal point of outreach missions as people from all over brought supplies, offered assistance and — ultimately — delivered hope.

We have seen it time and time again, the unshakeable human spirit that burns brightest in the face of disaster. And Mississippians certainly embody that spirit, and it has been on display these past several days.

More importantly, our differences have been set aside. There has been no talk of Democrat or Republican, of Black or white or Hispanic, of us or them. The only focus has been those who are in need, and those who can help have responded.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and local first responders were the tip of the spear. Most saw little if any sleep for the first 48 to 72 hours.

We’ve seen our state, local and national officials all on the ground together. Gov. Tate Reeves and President Joe Biden. U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson. These were not odd bedfellows of political making; these were leaders seeking to understand and to help.

Churches, non-profit, businesses, schools and individuals have all worked alongside each other to collect goods and supplies, to offer manpower and to provide places for people to stay and go to school and find a bit of solitary peace in the midst of chaos.

And while the initial shock has passed, recovery is far from done. It will take months — in some cases even years — for these areas to completely rebuild and recover. While the outpouring of support will naturally dwindle and the needs blessedly shrink, neither will completely disappear.

The needs will make their demands regardless of who is there to meet them. As the weeks and months progress, we must not abandon those who have lost so much to face those needs alone.

Mississippi’s resilient spirit has been on full display; let’s not allow it to dim anytime soon.