OPINION COLUMNS

Twisters, bull riding and fighting hunger

By Brian Knox | Published Sunday, June 5, 2011

It turns out that a tornado did indeed touch down in Wise County during the storms that swept through the county May 24.

According to the National Weather Service, an EF0 tornado touched down about three miles north of Rhome. The tornado apparently stayed on the ground for 4,428 feet.

Brian Knox

An EF0 tornado is classified as having wind speeds of 65 to 85 miles per hour.

I received an email from a homeowner who lives in the 200 block of Latham Lane who reported that a double wide was knocked off its foundation by about 5 to 6 feet. A large shed was also damaged.

In all, 10 tornadoes touched down during the “supercell” storm that crossed over North Texas on May 24. The strongest tornado was an EF2 that occurred in the southwest part of the city of Denton.

While North Texas may have escaped with relatively minimal damage from this storm, the same can’t be said for Joplin, Mo. On May 22, an EF4 tornado plowed through the city, causing massive damage and a death toll that stood at 138 people as of Thursday. It was the deadliest single tornado in the United States in 61 years.

At least a few Wise County residents have traveled to Joplin to help the city recover. Eve Roberts and her daughter, Rebecca, and Loretta Hagen and her daughter, Julie, all members of Decatur Bible Church, were in Joplin last week with the Samaritan’s Purse emergency relief program.

Eve emailed me from Joplin late Thursday and gave the following report:

“We have been working with Samaritan’s Purse in small teams sorting through possessions, hauling/carrying debris, ministering to needs, talking and visiting and praying with families and stocking the food and resource distribution center,” she wrote. “All that in two days! The need is great, and the degree of destruction is great. It is like a town that was chewed up by a weed eater.”

The four were to return to Decatur Friday, but she said their husbands are planning a trip in the next couple of weeks. You can read more and see photos of the work of Samaritan’s Purse at http://www.samaritanspurse.org.

Another successful ride

I didn’t watch any of the PBR event last Saturday in Decatur, but I know the place was packed because I helped the Rotary Club park cars for about four hours. By the time the event was getting under way, the lot was just about full.

It was interesting to note how many people came from Oklahoma and other states to attend. I’m sure our local retailers benefited from the extra traffic in town last weekend. One couple asked where they could get a stadium seat. After giving them a couple of possible places that would carry such an item, I noticed them later carrying the seats into the arena.

But of course, the main reason for the event is to raise money for charity. It may take another week or so for event organizers to tally up a total, but it will surely be another sizable donation. Last year, WC Challenger Charities, which puts on the event, donated $44,900 to nine Wise County non-profit organizations and Resistol Relief Fund for injured bull riders.

The overall champion, by the way, was Skeeter Kingsolver of McLouth, Kan. Ben Jones of Boyd was third in the average and first in the long go.

Feeding Wise

In a couple of weeks, you should start seeing information in the newspaper and online about “Feeding Wise,” a project we are undertaking to look at hunger issues in Wise County. We’re still ironing out the details and digging for information, so there are not a lot of specifics to pass along at this time.

However, if you or your organization deals with feeding the hungry in any way in Wise County, we’d like to hear from you. Email us with the subject line “Feeding Wise” at news@wcmessenger.com.

Or, if you have received help from a local agency and would like to share your story, we’d also love to hear from you. You can contact us at the same address.

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