Note brings neighbors closer after tornado
STEVENSVILLE — In Bay City, residents are still recovering from the aftermath of a tornado that ripped through the area in July. One homeowner, Karen Gallagher, was displaced while repairs to the roof and structure must be completed before she can move back in to her home.
Gallagher said she anticipated being out of her home for at least six months, but her family was able to secure a rental close by. Recently, Gallagher said she had been going in and out of “tornado house” as she calls it, hauling belongings to the rental house and generally feeling overwhelmed by the thought of being out of her home for the holidays, when she went to check the mailbox.
Inside the mailbox was a hand-painted rock and written note that considerably lifted her spirits, said Gallagher. The outside of the card was a drawing of Gallagher’s house with a man on the roof holding a hammer. When Gallagher opened the card, she found a note from Sofia Assaro, a 10-year-old girl from Gallagher’s neighborhood. The note read, “Dear Neighbor, I’m sorry for your loss. I’ll pray that your house will be fixed soon.”
Gallagher said when she read the note, she found herself crying at her mailbox, touched that this little girl was thinking of her neighbors.
“I was thrilled that someone would think of me,” said Gallagher. “Although, we are very thankful we were not hurt, this [tornado] was the scariest thing, I have ever lived through.” The storm sent the joists from the front of Gallagher’s house through the back of the house, she said.
Gallagher wrote back to Sofia to thank her for her kind note and was later able to meet Sofia and her mother Kim, whom she had not met before, even though they shared the same neighborhood. Sofia’s family was not home when the storm came through, and when they came home, they were fortunate to find their house had not been damaged.
But Sofia was overwhelmed for concern for her neighbors, said her mother, and wanted to do something to do help. When she came up with the idea to leave brightly painted rocks and notes for her neighbor’s whose homes had been damaged, her mother agreed it was a good idea.
Sofia left notes for several other neighbors, but Gallagher said she is afraid several of them had not received them yet because they had not been back to their homes.
“She is a fine little girl,” said Gallagher, “and has lifted all of our spirits .... I’m so glad we have gotten to know each other.”
In Bay City, resident Karen Gallagher was the recipient of this note and painted rock from neighbor Sofia Assaro.