Best laid plans
by Jennifer Cohron
Jul 24, 2011 | 1497 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
I wish I could say that I didn't write a column last week because Zac and I were on a slow, romantic cruise to the Bahamas.

The truth is that I ran out of time and energy.

Cordova is now a full-time beat, and I've been trying to juggle my share of general news assignments while also finding local content for Lifestyles.

I have two awesome guys at home who like to see me occasionally, too.

It has taken me awhile to realize that I can either do a few things right or everything wrong. I thought a break would help me sort out my priorities.

I've toyed with the idea of dropping my column so I could free up more time for reporting.

However, this section has made some strides in the past year. I'm proud to announce that the Daily Mountain Eagle recently won third place for Best Lifestyle/Family Page in the Alabama Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

My future plans for Lifestyles are temporarily on hold while I focus on stories related to the recovery of my hometown.

However, quitting my column would be like a captain abandoning ship. I can't do that yet.

I'm also not ready to sever the relationship that I have developed with the readers who are kind enough to consider Zac, Wyatt and me as members of their extended family.

Life is hard and almost never fair. If I can make someone feel a little better about it by telling about what the Cohrons are up to, then I want this column to continue.

As I've said before, writing also helps me. Even when I have a horrible week, I have to find something positive in it that I can share on Sunday.

I actually started a column last week but stopped because I knew it was too depressing. In just a few paragraphs, I dug a hole so dark and deep that I couldn't find my way out of it.

Then two things happened that lifted my spirits and inspired this week's column.

First, I had a conversation with Carmen Stauth. Carmen handled communications for the Kansas city of Greensburg, which was obliterated by an EF-5 tornado in May 2007.

The similarities between Cordova and Greensburg are almost eerie.

Carmen told me that Greensburg had a population of about 1,500 before the storm. Many of its store fronts were empty and almost one fourth of its people had moved away in the four decades before the disaster.

"We were dying," were Carmen's exact words to me.

Their tornado killed 11 people and took out more than 90 percent of the city, including a school, municipal buildings, grocery store and virtually every home.

Four years later, Greensburg is serving as an inspiration to other small towns who are trying to rise from rubble. Although they are still not where they want to be, they are a long way from where they were.

My hour-long phone call with Carmen renewed my hope in Cordova's future.

"You're never going to have the 'normal' you had before April 27, but what you do now will affect the generations to come," she said.

The next day, Zac and I attended the community cookout and vision meeting at Cordova High School.

The last time we were in a room with so many of our friends and neighbors was the Cordova City Council meeting where the restricted use of manufactured homes was discussed.

The tension was so thick that night that you could cut it with a knife. I expected to hear gunshots ring out at any moment.

The atmosphere at CHS was much more pleasant on July 15. People were exchanging smiles, hugs and ideas for the Cordova we want to build for our children and grandchildren.

I know Mark Bozeman was happy to hear almost everybody in town wants "The Pig" back, and Zac has told him that he will help rebuild it brick by brick when the time comes.

Just talking about recovery won't make it a reality.

However, it's the first step on a long road that the Blue Devil family needs to walk together.