Finding resilience after a tornado
By Carlo Allegri
The phone rang past midnight. It was my editor asking if I was available to jump on a plane at 6 a.m. to cover the devastating tornado that had raged across central Arkansas just north of Little Rock.
On a layover in Dallas, I found out our editors had arranged an aerial photo flight so we could get pictures out to our clients early the next day. When I landed in Little Rock, a shuttle was waiting to take me to the private side of the airport for my charter. This pre-planning meant there was no wasted time.
After about an hour of the roughest, most turbulent flight I’ve ever had over the hardest-hit areas of utter devastation, we turned around and headed back to the airport.
When I landed, I uploaded a wide selection of photos to my editor Adrees Latif to prep and file to the wire, while I headed out in my rental car to provide coverage from the ground.
Being up in the sky gave me an advantage; I knew exactly where to go. This planning and teamwork made for a long but very efficient day of shooting.
If it was possible, the situation on the ground was even more heartbreaking than it looked from the air. The tornado cut through a subdivision of Vilonia with surgical precision, leaving one group of houses largely unscathed while leveling the house next door down to the concrete foundation.
I met some amazing people – people with compassion, resilience and a love of God and country.
The most touching of these was Larry Loving, a man who just days before the tornado hit had decided to forego anymore treatment for his terminal cancer so he could enjoy his last days with as much dignity as possible.
He, his wife and two of their three children, all of whom are in the military, sifted through what was left of their home, searching for any significant artifacts to keep. After all that, they plan to rebuild, they said, because “we are Americans; that’s what we do.”