June 16, 2024

THE LIST: 'The only way we should approach this is together'


Someone I interviewed in the past few days said this tornado hitting, and all the tragedy surrounding it, has reminded her of a few things about Greenfield that we already knew. I agree with that statement. We’re tight knit, stubborn in a good way, and we look out for each other.

I sit and write this Tuesday morning, almost a week, to the hour, after the tornado hit Greenfield. Farms near and far from town in its path were also destroyed with debris spread for miles through farm fields.

Someone else reminded me that the cleanup and recovery, in every sense, will be a marathon and not a sprint. Coming fresh off a successful track season around here, I get the metaphor. Around the first turn and down the back stretch, we’re off to a stellar start.

One thing I noticed as my brother came up from Creston to help us clean up our yard and some others in the neighborhood is that it has often been neighbors helping neighbors clean up after the tornado. People have forgotten about their own property, knowing it will also get taken care of, and are looking out for others first. The circle goes round and round, and it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m like a lot of you. I wish this would’ve never happened. I didn’t sign up for this job wanting to cover an event such as this. It has certain been a “learn as you go” endeavor. The teamwork between several of us immediately following the tornado until now has been the difference. Major thanks to the farmer who loaned us a UTV to get around. Sorry to my father-in-law who sells cars, but I might not ever buy a car again.

Kilee and I were taking cover in our hallway when the tornado hit just a couple hundred feet from our home. The sound of the tornado is something we’ll likely never get out of our minds. My ears popped and we heard the “freight train” coming. We have intermediate damage to our home, but it is livable. People we know and love lost everything not far from us, but many have a good outlook on things.

We continue to pray for those who lost family members and close friends in the tornado, as well as those who lost homes. That part of all this is difficult.

I see the block party in the Greenfield City Park Monday and the gathering scheduled for Tuesday night on the courthouse lawn as excellent opportunities for the community to get together and begin to heal. We will have sad stories to tell in the coming weeks, but we also plan to tell the happy ones. We need that right now.

Mayor Jimmie Schultz said it well — though the tornado ripped a part of our town to shreds in mere seconds, it didn’t rip out our resolve to rebuild it a little at a time. It will take time but can be done.

The outside businesses and organizations and “inside” organizations, that include our neighbors right here in Greenfield and Adair County, have all been amazing as we’ve responded as a community to the tornado. Let’s not forget, as we go forward, what these people have done to help us in our time of need.

Until we received power and natural gas again at home (thanks to all who made those happen really quickly), Kilee and I stayed with a different family member or friend each night after the tornado. One of them had a little sign in their bathroom that stated Psalm 46:10, which says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Those short, simple words that I’ve known for a long time were a good reminder that I needed badly this week. It’s the only way I’ve gotten through. Even so, it is still hard. That’s OK.

Don’t forget to smile and wave at those you see on the street and go the extra mile to look out for each other. We will get through this one step at a time, together. That’s the only way we should approach it.

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.