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The Grand Island Independent
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Grand Island, NE 68801
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June 5, 1980
Bloody but unbowed

The following editorial appeared on page 1 of the Thursday, June 5, Independent

Grand Island today lies devastated. Everybody in Nebraska knows it was hit by violent tornadoes Tuesday night. Few can really imagine the destruction.

When visitors are allowed in the city, they will hardly believe what they see. But they will have missed the worst of it -- the indescribable mass of debris left from the hopes and dreams and livelihoods of thousands of Grand Islanders.

Yes, thousands. Early reports of 250 homes destroyed and 200 more damaged understate the case. As this was written a precise tabulation had still not made; there were more urgent immediate concerns. But the number of homes and apartment units virtually leveled had to be at least twice that. Many times more were seriously damaged. When you amass the business damage along the South Locust Street strip, the figures become unreal.

Yet Grand Island is not a city in shock. Wounded, yes. Saddened, yes. But more evident has been the orderly and well organized assistance and cleanup, the jutted jaws and grim determination of the victims, the helping hands from unaffected Islanders and neighbors from all over central Nebraska. And even an occasional smile, and many, many sighs of relief.

Relief because when you see the devastation of occupied dwellings and apartments, and busy restaurants and retail establishments and motels, and when you have inhaled the smell of escaping gas and have seen the tangle wires of high voltage power lines, you realize the miracle that only four had died, as of Thursday morning, and that not all that many more were seriously injured.

And for that, Grand Islanders owe a great big vote of thanks to the Weather Service that provided the timely warnings, the Civil Defense agency that transmitted them and the public safety officials who did such a tremendous rescue operation. And Islanders themselves are to be applauded for their good sense in observing the warnings, following prescribed procedures and keeping their cool. It does work, Tuesday proved, and all who see the devastation will quickly become believers too.

There is an added thought in Grand Island today. Like many, we complain about our tax load. But when you have witnessed the effectiveness of those warning systems, when you have observed the efficiency of the rescue and cleanup, when you have seen the tremendous amount of policing and other assistance needed, and when you have grasped the gamut of assistance available to those hit by this incredible storm, it is brought home graphically what those tax dollars provide.

Yes, Grand Island lies devastated. But it is not dead. It began proving that Tuesday night before the funnel clouds which seemed to hover over the city for hours had moved on. It proved it through the rest of the night-time hours, and through a day Wednesday that will be etched forever in the minds of all who were here.

The city is alive and kicking today, and the pioneers who built it could hardly have had more spirit.