17 Scottie S

In the early hours of the morning on May 25, 2011, something struck my county. As I laid in bed, sleeping peacefully, I was awoken by a storm. My eleven year old self crawled from my bed, making sure I had my new puppy in my hand, and tiptoed down the stairs into my mother’s room. I laid down beside her and shut my eyes, oblivious to the turmoil that was unfolding on the other side of the county.

At about six-thirty a.m. the phone rang. My mom answered. I could hear the fear in her voice. My aunt had called. She said that the tornado had taken everything on that side. It was all gone. We turned on the news. The broadcaster said there would be no school. He also said that there were deaths. That word made my body freeze up. They did not have names, but I knew it was someone we knew. It had to be. The community was too small for it not to be at least an acquaintance. My mom started making phone calls, but there were just too many people on that side of the county to call, too many people that we cared about.

When the phone rang a few hours later, I was in my bedroom. I heard my mom cry out and I knew something awful had happened. One of my mother’s closest friends, Cheryl, had been killed. I asked myself “How could this be.” I had just seen her the other day. How could one of the kindest ladies, a mother of two, such a sweet soul, be dead? Not only had people died that day, but the part of the county died. Well, it looked dead anyway. Homes and lives were destroyed. At first we did not believe that we could rebuild. Too much was gone and no one had enough money to do anything about it.

I remember that afternoon we went to my cousin’s house. Their whole roof had caved in. As we cleaned up debris, I wondered how everything would end up, if our community would ever be the same. This house that I had grown up going to was not even a house anymore. It was only pieces of what looked like a forgotten home. Trees were in the pool, leaves covered the floor of my cousins room, the microwave was in the bathroom, and there was a dead squirrel on the couch. Everything was all wrong. It should not have happened to my sweet little relatives, but it did.  I asked my Aunt Stacy if they were going to move and she said, “Of course not”. That is when she told me about insurance. I know it sounds dumb, but at eleven years old, I had no idea people could invest in something that could help them come back from natural disasters. I knew that most people in the area, did not have money to rebuild. But with insurance, they would be alright. My hope that our county would return to its former glory was restored.

Now, when I drive through the community I look at it with pride. I am so thankful that the various insurance companies did so much to help us all thrive after the incident. Although the insurance

companies could not bring Cheryl and the others back, they brought us something else. They brought us closure. With the ability to rebuild, we achieved so much as a community. Insurance is important to me because I know how much it can help people. It helped me, my loved ones, and my entire community. When we lost it all, insurance was there to help us pick up the pieces. They had our backs and never let us down. When we were lost, they helped us back on the path for our future. Without insurance who knows where Franklin County would be? The 2011 tornado almost destroyed us forever, but with the help of insurance, we rose above.  It did not happen overnight. Some days were harder than others, but we did it. We rebuilt, and here we are. There are some places that are still caved in. Those people did not have insurance. I feel bad for those people. They now know if they had just gone a little way to purchase insurance, then they could be where we are. One day I would like to build a memorial, in honor of all the lives lost. But on the memorial I would also like to thank the insurance companies. Because I cannot say it enough, but without them, our county would be a ghost town. An empty town haunted by the deceased and the broken buildings. Now, when I’m older I will have insurance for everything, because you never know when or where disaster could strike.

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