On Friday night, my wife and I were on our way out to dinner in St. Louis, about two miles from home, when we heard the tornado sirens start. We turned around and went home, our “dinner out” turning into microwaved leftovers on a card table in our basement.
We were fortunate; our part of St. Louis was spared. But a lot of other Monsanto employees and their families weren’t, as the storm and its associated tornadoes bore down on an extended stretch of the St. Louis area that included rural areas to the west, the St. Louis airport and nearby suburbs, and suburbs across the Mississippi River in Illinois.
Miraculously, no one was killed, and serious injuries were relatively few. This community owes a huge debt of thanks to the National Weather Service and the local television weather forecasters who continued live coverage for hours before and after the storm.
The extent of the damage became clear with daylight on Saturday. And the stories became personal for Monsanto.
One employee lost electricity and is now dealing with a large tree downed in his backyard, his home spared but his neighbors not as fortunate.
Another, in one of the damaged areas, still doesn’t have electricity today, but was able to use her Facebook page not only to let her family know she was OK but also to let fellow employees know about the damage to the airport so they could reschedule planned business events.
One employee took the photograph above. This is what his parent’s home now looks like.
There are a lot of stories just like these. Homes damaged or destroyed. Narrow escapes. Miracles.
On Sunday, Monsanto pledged $100,000 to the Red Cross to help with the disaster. Other companies and organizations, like the St. Louis Cardinals, have also pledged support.
We do this because it’s the right thing to do, yes. But we also do it because we’re part of this community, and disasters like this happen to us, too.