Resilience on display all across our state

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, April 2, 2023

By Bonnie Brown

Last week’s storms certainly demonstrated to us all how quickly everything can change in an instant. The winds shifted and intensified, the rain poured, the thunder roared, and the lightning sizzled. It was scary. It took hours for the storms to form and approach our area and only seconds to obliterate Rolling Fork.

The weather forecasters were doing their very best to alert us all as to the location of these tornadoes that were aloft and trying to predict when and where they might touch down.

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They have very sophisticated computers to assist them. But even with the technology, the experience of the weather forecasters and the storm chasers, there was no way to predict the horror and the power of the tornadoes that tore through Mississippi and moved on into Alabama, decimating the Rolling Fork and Silver City communities along the way.

These small Delta towns don’t compare to the thriving Oxford area, so rebuilding will be very challenging.

In fact, the very next night Tom and I attended the 20th Anniversary Gala at the Gertrude C. Ford Center on campus. Sam and Mary Haskell were presented with the Concerto Award for their patronage of the Center and the arts. The award itself is a replica of the Concerto, a 17-foot bronze statue of a violinist and a cellist by Mississippi sculptor Rod Moorhead that stands at the front of the Ford Center.

The evening’s hosts were Morgan Freeman and Debbie Allen and the program featured quite a line-up of famous, talented performers including Christine Baranski, Guy Hovis, Bruce Levingston, Gerald McRaney, Patty Lewis, and a number of others who wowed the crowd.

The entertainers all expressed their feelings of compassion for all those Mississippians who lost homes, possessions, and sadly family members, friends, and neighbors in these horrific storms.

The contrast of the night before with the threatening storms destroying our beloved Mississippi communities, and the celebration of the Ford Center and what it means to Ole Miss, Oxford, and the State was a stark reminder of how fortunate we were to have escaped the storm’s wrath.

How fortunate we are that our children and grandchildren have great educational opportunities, being taught by talented, dedicated teachers. We are blessed to have skilled health care workers who put it all on the line for our health.

Think about our firefighters and police officers. We can take comfort that they are the finest professionals who are always looking out for the citizens and taking care of our community in ways that we don’t even know about.

We have a lovely community that is to be envied. Look around at any other small town and you won’t see the vibrancy that exists in our municipality.

Sam and Mary Haskell were celebrated by receiving the Concerto Award and are most deserving of that recognition. They returned to Oxford and have made the commitment to being the very best citizens by all they do for Ole Miss, Oxford, and our beloved Mississippi.

Their impact extends beyond supporting the arts to supporting many other programs. They roll up their sleeves and contribute in many ways as do so many other Oxford residents.

Let’s hope and pray that our Rolling Fork neighbors continue to exhibit the resilience that will be necessary to rebuild their homes, businesses, and to emerge stronger as they craft a new future for themselves and for Mississippi.

God bless them.