Weathering the Storm

By Jeff Thompson, Retired Director of Pastoral Care, Northeast Georgia Health System

Hall County has a history of resiliency through storms.

On June 1, 1913 a tornado hit Hall county. It caused massive destruction and 104 people lost their
lives. There were over 200 injured. The community was devastated. Over the next days and weeks,
people pulled together. Through compassion, resilience and faith, they rebuilt and continued with their
lives.

On April 6, 1936 around 8:00 a.m., a F4 Tornado hit Hall County. A second funnel cloud joined it as it
moved towards downtown Gainesville. The result of these storms left 1600 injured and 203 dead. It was
a complete disaster. It is ranked as the sixth deadliest tornado in United States history. Again, over the
next days and weeks, people pulled together. Through compassion, resilience and faith, they rebuilt and
continued with their lives.

On March 20, 1998, twenty-two years ago this month, around 6:00 a.m., a F3 Tornado hit Hall and White
County. The aftermath saw over 171 injured and 12 fatalities. Ambulances soon began rushing to the
hospital. EMT personnel were running through the ambulance door as fast as possible bringing the
injured, dead and dying. Staff reported to the ED from throughout the hospital to care for the injured
and to support and care for the first responders and our frontline staff.  Staff worked well into the
night. Some never left the Medical Center for two days. The next days and weeks, those lost were
mourned and remembered, those injured began to heal, and those whose property was destroyed
began to rebuild.

Over the years I have heard many definitions of resilience. However, for me the best definition is found
in the lives of those from the past to the present who have modeled how to face and overcome a
difficult situation. The situation we are facing today is a different kind of storm, but the definition of
resilience lives among us in Hall County. As we witness spring blooming around us and with the coming
of new life evident in nature, I have faith that with God’s help, we will have the compassion, resilience
and faith to face the current challenge.

“Resilience is based on compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others.”
–Sharon Salzberg

“We are stronger than we think. We have emotional, spiritual and even physical resources at our
disposal. We may get knocked down, but we don’t have to stay down.”
–Steve Goodier