Last night before I went to bed I was reading this story about a small town in Oklahoma called Picher. Apparently once a booming lead mining town, its all but abandoned because of toxic lead waste, mines collapsing, and no work there. Its now a superfund site, slated for cleanup (who knows when) and the people that grew up there, generation after generation, who always thought they’d live there forever, and now faced with either moving out, or living in a ghost town. The government only giving them “fair market value” for their houses, leaving little to start a new life somewhere else.
I thought last night, as I read the piece, of how sad it would be to live someplace your whole life and be forced to move out, simply because its now polluted from the very thing that brought it prosperity back in the day. I felt sorry for those people that had to find a new home, leaving those many generations of memories behind, and for those choosing to stay and dealing with very little support.
This morning I woke up to find that a number of Tornados had struck the Oklahoma and Missouri area. I know some people in both those areas, and thankfully except for losing power and damage around them, they are safe. I checked out CNN to read more about where the tornados hit, and the by-line of the main story just hit me in the forehead. PICHER. The tornado hit that small, dying town where only a handful (800 or so) residents were still there.
The story mentions the town’s troubles, and how more would most likely be dead had the government buy-outs not happened in the superfund site town. How eerie is it that a story about this town was written, about its slow death, the decisions residents had to make (stay/leave) and how some said “I’ll go before I leave this town”... I wonder how they feel now. Was it a sign? Was it a warning? Was it the last straw for some that wanted to stay, or just another excuse to rebuild and stay.
I just thought it very odd that I read this late last night, one of those, “oh, let me read this even though I’m not that interested in the subject” sort of scans before going to bed... and then the tornados came. Will those that stayed and now have no home still be offered the government buy-out? Will insurance companies give them the money they need to rebuild if their property is on a superfund site? Is this the very end of Picher?