Mayor Carrie Tergin shows how one year of recovery has brought Jefferson City together.

On May 22, 2019, we had declared a flood emergency and ordered some evacuations, but little did we know that was the least of our worries.

After 11 p.m., we received storm warnings all over Missouri. Many of us thought we don’t get tornadoes because of the hills and the river, or at least we thought there hadn’t been a tornado here that we can recall. I had just gone to bed that night when the sirens went off. 

Every day, there’s a tragedy, a disaster, but we usually see it from a distance. Not in our backyard. You see those small-town mayors with a news camera in their face, and you feel bad for them, and then you turn the channel.

Never did I think I’d see Jefferson City on nearly every news channel in America. By 3 a.m., my family in Greece had heard the news that an EF-3 tornado had ripped through Jefferson City. Before we knew what hit us, we checked on each other, friends, and family. Thank God there were no fatalities.

It was a true miracle.

Why? Timing. People heeded warnings. There were stories of homes being blown away while people ran downstairs, some holding their children.

“Every day, there’s a tragedy, a disaster, but we usually see it from a distance. Not in our backyard.”

Mayor Carrie Tergin

Within one hour, the “Today” show called, and my phone did not stop ringing. The sun was not yet up to see the damage, and I’m talking to the world. I had to think, no pressure, stay calm, be real, speak from the heart, and you will be ok.

We will all be ok; we are strong. Those winds were strong, but we are stronger.

The tornado hit within one block of City Hall, just three blocks from our downtown. It devastated neighborhoods and ripped homes and trees apart with a vengeance that moved historic mansions off their foundations. A year later, we’re left with holes where homes once stood, and tarps remain on rooftops.

But we’re all still here to talk about it. In one instant, we learned what’s really important. It’s neighbors helping neighbors no matter what. It’s food and water. It’s praying with strangers who quickly become friends, and with people from around the country who came to help.

We were challenged, but those challenges made us extremely strong. I’m thankful for our shift in priorities.

Mayoral Advice

  1. Yes, there is anxiety. Whether past occurrences or current situations are causing you more stress, be sure to ask for help. It is ok.
  2. Heed the warnings! Response times can be a life-saver.
  3. Be prepared for your family, your business, and your community. Have copies of all important documents in a secure location.
  4. Whatever you do, be ready for that next disaster before it happens. Make sure to use resources available to you. 
  5. You must be strong. Just stay strong. Just say it. Just keep saying it until you believe it. Know that we will come back stronger. #JCSTRONG became our rally, and we became JC strong! 

Practice drills on blue-sky days. Then participate in the recovery. We stick together for the common goal of long-term recovery. Have a long-term vision. Know that our community will come back. We will rebuild. One brick at a time, one home at a time, one day at a time, one year at a time. 

May you welcome those challenges in life that make you strong, and remember we are stronger together! #OneYearStronger