It’s already been over two weeks since several of our downtown buildings were destroyed in the Sept. 13th fire and a handful of WSU students lost their homes. The stories of that night have been swirling around campus and it’s obvious that everyone has been affected somehow, even if they lived on the other side of town. It’s hard to find positives in events like these but leave it to Winona to dig for the silver lining. I became attached to this town almost immediately in my freshmen year and it’s situations like this that make me remember why I was smitten so quickly. The local response to the devastating fire has been completely amazing.
I bet that most of you have heard about how surrounding-area fire departments (Goodview, St. Charles, Wilson, and Pickwick) lent their services to Winona at the height of the chaos (talk about Improving Our World– kudos, guys!) but even if you can’t operate an extending ladder, Winona and WSU have done their best to let everyone help out. Almost immediately the Foundation Office in Somsen Hall opened up for donations to help those who were displaced, and in the meantime students were relocated to temporary campus housing. Even off campus local churches lent worship space to the members of the destroyed Islamic center without hesitation.
Incidents like this can really define a town, and over the last two weeks Winona has made it very clear that it revolves around community support, not disaster. Luckily, we managed to contain the fire and save as much of our downtown as possible but even with the significant losses I get the impression that pretty soon the buildings will be rebuilt, and all that will remain is a reminder of what a town can do when it pulls together.
The exact cause of the fire is still unknown, but I know the Winona community will be the cause of the reconstruction.
If you want to pitch in to community efforts in rebuilding the Islamic center check out the Facebook page dedicated to the cause.