The EF-2 tornado, which started in Oklahoma on April 27th and moved across the state line into Kansas, left a path of destruction through the heart of Baxter Springs. I praise God that no one was killed on the Kansas side and I pray for the families of those who lost loved ones from the storm in Oklahoma.
While in Baxter Springs over the past week, I observed something extraordinary despite the devastation. It’s something all of us here in Cherokee County are aware of, but sometimes we tend to forget because we are going about our normal day to day lives.
The generosity of our neighbors and community is exceptional and never failing!
We have seen it so many times, whether a family loses their home to a fire, a sudden diagnosis of a devastating illness or any other tragedy. In those times of struggle, everyone pulls together and allows their selflessness to overflow. That spirit of strength and giving has been displayed in full force in Baxter Springs.
In no time, in fact while we were still establishing a command center, friends from every community in Cherokee County came to provide whatever assistance they could.
Before long, even more people began coming from outside of our county also offering to help.
Throughout the week, I had a few chances to leave the command post and help deliver supplies and meals to citizens and workers in the impact zone. In doing so, I met a lot of great people. I visited with volunteers from all over the country, but many of them were from Joplin and told me they felt fortunate to pay back Cherokee County for the help they were given following the devastating tornado that struck their city in 2011.
I also spoke with several families as they sorted through the piles of debris which once was their homes. Their positive attitudes amazed me. I would ask them what they needed, and many either replied, we’re fine and asked if I needed anything, or some would tell me they had sent a truck of volunteers to their neighbors home and would take care of their needs later.
It was truly remarkable and moving, but not surprising. Because again, we know the people of Cherokee County is what makes it great. When it comes down to it, we will band together, help each other out and do what needs to be done.
As we continue the cleanup phase and start rebuilding, the needs for assistance will continue, and I know at some point the groups from outside of our region will have to move on to another unfortunate event somewhere in the country. When they do, we will still be here helping one another. That’s what we do. That’s who we are. That is why I am incredibly proud of the citizens of Cherokee County and how they are stepping up to help during this difficult time.
Sheriff, Cherokee County