In the early morning hours on April 25, 2019, a EF3 tornado plowed through the college town of Ruston, Louisiana. Multiple areas received devastating damage, and a mother and son were killed. It was a terrible blow to the community.
Hub graduated from Louisiana Tech and this town is very special to him. His sister works for the university. She and his brother also graduated from Tech. They are bulldogs till they die, and this sweet town that holds so many memories for the three of them took a beating.
We got to spend several hours in Ruston yesterday for a book signing at the cutest location, "The Children's Shoppe". After the event, we drove around town surveying the destruction. It was heart breaking.....blue tarps on roofs, huge tree roots laying in yards, concrete slabs where a business used to be, mangled light posts, empty lots where large trees used to grow....that tornado left nothing but wreckage in its path. If you've ever witnessed the aftermath of a large tornado, you understand and can probably visualize what I saw. It's scary and it's heart-wrenching.
Hub took me on a walk down memory lane. Now, let me preface this by explaining that we both are guilty of pointing out locations of personal interest an alarming amount of times to each other. He has learned every childhood friend's home from my old neighborhood probably 28 times. He could be the Vaughn Meadow/Ridgefield/Brentwood tour guide from the 1970s at this point!
Likewise, I have seen Ruston several times, and am more than familiar with the stories that go along with his college hangouts. For some odd reason, we like to put it on repeat as if we have never seen or heard these precious morsels of information from the past. Weird? Yes. But at least we understand each other.
We drove by the places he lived (which is an unusually large amount for a college stint, but that's another story). We drove by his fraternity house, which thankfully didn't look damaged at all, but the one directly behind it was destroyed. We saw the softball and baseball stadiums that will not be usable for a very long time. We saw a few spots in the quad where huge live oaks lived, but are no longer. We were "oohing" and "ahhing" at the devastation, but there were moments of silence too. He was mourning memories from a place he loves.
Luckily, that's not the end of the story. This little town has banded together and has begun rebuilding. We saw shirts for sale that simply said, "Ruston Strong". That perfectly describes the atmosphere there. The residents weren't whining about the past, they were focusing on the future. Ruston's true colors have been revealed through this tragedy. They are resilient. They are spunky. They are strong. Ruston Strong.
You can purchase these shirts online and proceeds will help go to the clean up efforts of "The Rut". Hub has added one to his collection. Go Dawgs!
If you're ever in Ruston, drop by The Children's Shoppe. It's one of the cutest shops I've ever seen!