But much else got missed, including how hard it is to rebuild, literally and figuratively. Material help is abundant after natural disasters, but emotional support from outsiders often falls short. I learned that hearing other people’s storm stories while you’re digging out debris is not all that helpful. And I saw how stress can wear on early good will, even dividing residents and former friends. As I watch the suffering in Joplin, I’m reminded that sometimes one can help best by putting down the chain saws and checkbooks and just listening.
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