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At least six people in my home state of Illinois were killed by an EF-4 tornado Sunday, Nov. 17.
According to ABC News, 170-190 mph winds tore through central Illinois, injuring about 120 people, destroying between 250 and 500 buildings and prompting Gov. Pat Quinn to declare seven counties in his state disaster areas.
Although I did not personally know any of the people affected by the storm, I know how it feels to hide in the basement because of a tornado warning, a familiar feeling for many residents of the Midwest. I cannot imagine having to hide in my basement, only to find that the rest of my house had been shredded to pieces. Unfortunately, that scenario became a reality for many families Nov. 17.
I am always amazed at how fast relief efforts are organized when tragedy strikes, especially after natural disasters. Since the advent of the Internet, people halfway across the world can not only find out about a natural disaster within minutes of it happening, but they can also give money online to organizations that have the resources to contribute to recovery efforts.
But for all the positives that come along with increased awareness of tragedies, it does seem easier to forget how life-changing these events are. When things like this happen, rarely does it sink in that these people are not just temporarily inconvenienced. This is an event from which it will take years to recover both financially and emotionally.
The Internet has changed many things about modern society, but one thing I hope never changes is our ability to empathize with those who have been affected by tragedy.