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Editor's note: Tornado stories connect 'Post' with Athens area

A year ago, storms whipped through Athens and most of Central and Southeast Ohio. Damage was spread far and wide, and Athens was not immune.

At the time, I was interning at The Columbus Dispatch and spent much of the following day tracking storm damage throughout the state.

Meanwhile, my colleagues at The Post were busy storm-chasing as well. Our reporters and photographers sprang into action, grabbing amazing pictures of the damage and telling the stories of those residents who were hit the hardest.

Unfortunately, we were unable to publish a paper because The Athens Messenger, where our paper is printed each night, was damaged during the storm. It was the first lapse in The Post’s publication in decades.

Today, a year after the storms destroyed the football stadium at Athens High School, toppled mobile homes in The Plains and leveled several area businesses, we’re revisiting those sites and chronicling a community’s efforts to recuperate after the storm.

Head to our website to see some moving images of the storm’s wrath, the reconstruction efforts and what those sites look like today.

The outreach to the damaged area after the storm was impressive.

Then-Gov. Ted Strickland made an appearance less than a week after the storm, and the American Red Cross and other local organizations devoted time and resources to help those impaired by the storm.

For those of us who covered the storms, it was heartbreaking to hear the stories of some who had lost so much.

I’ll never forget walking through rubble and downed electrical lines as I spoke with residents who were just happy the damage wasn’t lethal. It’s stories such as today’s, as well as those we published a year ago today, that truly connect us to our local community.

One of our goals this year is to really reach out into the surrounding community — both to provide the best local coverage of any Athens outlet as well as to foster relationships with those who call Southeast Ohio their permanent home.

As a student publication, The Post often receives a bum rap outside the university community, and it’s — at least partially — understandable. But if you read through the pages of this paper this year, you’ll see an increasingly noticeable emphasis placed on covering the greater Athens area.

Hopefully, today’s coverage is both a fitting tribute to those whose lives were changed by last year’s storms and is the first step toward overhauling our city coverage.

wl372808@ohiou.edu

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