After the storm

Regarding Saturday night's tornadic storms that ripped across the region: They could have been worse.

That's a cliche, of course, but the nature of cliche is that there's a grain of truth to them.

As bad and damaging as the storms were, our area wasn't hit nearly as badly as the Atlanta area, where there were deaths and serious injuries. Not only did we have no storm-related fatalities, there were only a few injuries reported, and those were minor.

But by no means did our area escape unscathed. Wind speeds churned up to 135 mph in Belvedere, Clearwater and into Barnwell County, according to the National Weather Service. Considerable property damage was also reported in many other area communities -- notably Wrens, Ga., and across the river in Allendale, Barnwell, Edgefield and Aiken counties, especially Bath.

The scores of residents whose homes and businesses were destroyed or severely damaged are grateful to be alive, but for many of them that doesn't lessen the pain of suddenly finding themselves destitute or homeless.

One good thing about catastrophes is that they bring out the best in people. Friends and neighbors rally to help stricken families. Volunteers come out in force for the Red Cross, church and other charity groups to help folks deal with the tragic circumstances. Even politicians rise to the occasion in such crises.

Also to be commended are the various emergency response teams that come into play. They move fast and efficiently because of all the hours and days of training they put in.

Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt is to be applauded for moving quickly to impose a curfew as soon as he realized the extent of power outages and damages in the Midland Valley and North Augusta area. This discouraged would-be looters from coming out, and kept roads clear, enabling state and local responders to get to their recovery tasks quickly and unimpeded by needless traffic.

The recovery efforts will go on for months, and it could be weeks before total dollar damages will be known.

Yes, the storms could have been worse. They weren't, in part, because we were lucky -- but also because our communities are acquitting themselves well in dealing with a catastrophic event.

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