The news is covered with stories right now of the tornadoes in North Carolina. But a week before, two tornadoes touched down in Pulaski, Virginia to little fanfare outside the local population.
We shot “Catching Up” on location in Pulaski, and many of the people who assisted us with the process were affected by these tornadoes. As far as I know, this was the first time in recorded history a tornado has been confirmed in the town, which normally has relatively mild weather (aside from yearly flooding along Peak Creek). It was some of the worst weather related damage since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and the newest estimates of the damage are over $5 million.
As I’ve talked about before, part of the process of filming “Catching Up” was about me revisiting the places that made me who I am and going back to my childhood growing up in Pulaski. It is a place that is important to me, not just because most of my family still lives there. Seeing the pictures of the damage was liking seeing somebody rip apart photos from my childhood. These places were familiar, they were a part of me in a way that’s hard to explain.
The first (and stronger) tornado’s path went across the neighborhood where my grandmother lived when I was growing up, where my aunt and brother still live. It broke apart homes that I rode past every Sunday on our way to visit. When I worked for The Southwest Times, I wrote a feature about a man who lived two doors down from my grandmother. I took photos of the creek near the church we attended when I was in pre-school.
Everyone’s homes were more or less okay. Everybody I know in that part of town had some property damage. One person who helped with the film has declared their home a total loss.
I have no doubt that Pulaski will rebuild and that the community will remain strong. But they probably won’t be able to do it alone. If you are in Southwest Virginia and would like to help by volunteering, the best place to find current information is the Town of Pulaski Facebook Page. They are also posting information for donations, though if you are interested in donating you can contact me or comment on this post and I can let you know some of the organizations that are currently helping out.
I could not have made this movie without the community in Pulaski, and I am hoping that they get through this stronger than they were before.
Photo Source: Town of Pulaski Facebook Page