Editorial: Sunday Morning Miracle

The following is an editorial from Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan K. Barnett regarding the recently tornado that touched down in North Fairview Farms.

A Neighborhood Story

On Sunday, September 21, 2014 an F1 tornado struck the city of Rochester Hills. As far as we can tell, it is the first tornado to ever hit our community. The tornado touched down at 5:57 a.m. and just two minutes later… was gone. In just 120 seconds, it damaged over 40 homes, uprooted over 100 trees, and devastated a three-block portion of North Fairview Farms.

Photo credit: Tom Gendich

Photo credit: Tom Gendich

What it didn’t do, however, is perhaps more significant. It did not cause any injuries – truly a Sunday morning miracle! It also didn’t catch us off guard. While tornados in September are rare and almost unheard of in the early morning hours, our First Responders were ready. Coordinating a response of nearly 100 people across various organizations like Homeland Security, the Salvation Army, and other emergency responders, Rochester Hills Chief of Fire and Emergency Services, Sean Canto, commanded the scene and incident flawlessly.

I called on many of our city’s friends and colleagues to assist in our time of need, and everyone said yes. Thank you to the cities of Rochester, Auburn Hills, and Troy. Thank you to Rochester Community Schools and the Royal Park Hotel for providing transportation and shelter. Thank you to the City of Rochester Hills Parks and Forestry Department, Building Department, and the Department of Public Services. All answered the call to serve and assist our residents within hours. As I went door-to-door and talked to residents, the comments were enthusiastic and grateful. All were very pleased and impressed by the coordinated city response, thankful for the support, and appreciative of the assistance.

Photo credit: Tom Gendich

Photo credit: Tom Gendich

There is one last item that the tornado was not able to impact… the resilience of the incredible neighbors of North Fairview Farms. That, to me, was the real story of this tornado – neighbors helping neighbors. Residents walking down the street, tools in hand, asking how they can help. Within just a few short days, North Fairview Farms was back on its feet and looking dramatically different than it did just days earlier.

It’s always tough to quantify community spirit. It doesn’t have a win/loss record you can read about in the paper and it cannot be easily measured on a temperature-like scale. No…if you want to see community spirit on display, I suggest you drive down Grandview, Fairfield, or Ridgecrest or just spend a little time in the North Fairview Farms neighborhood park. It is both physically visible and emotionally tangible. It’s one of the aspects a challenge like this provides – a test of a community’s mettle.

Money magazine had already chosen our city as one of the “Top 10 Places to Live in America” prior to the tornado. I want to personally thank the residents of North Fairview Farms for confirming that choice in their own spectacular way.

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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