The tornado struck mercilessly, tearing trees from the ground, sucking roofs off homes, knocking out electricity and smashing cars.

Residents huddled in the dark, then emerged to grimly assess the damage.

Pendleton was devastated. The few who could get in from the outside said it looked like a war zone.

Then everyone took a deep breath. And went to work.

Some wielded chainsaws and wood chippers. Some cleared streets and restored power. Some manned a shelter. Others contributed food, water and cleaning supplies.

Together, in just a matter of days, they put the town back together.

Yes, there are still roofs to replace and trees to plant and insurance payments to be secured.

But through the diligence and hard work of many — local residents, emergency personnel, town officials, volunteers from all over — Pendleton hummed to life again just two days after the Memorial Day tornado struck.

Some say God was on Pendleton's side, and that might be the case. No one was killed, no one was badly hurt. Even a dazed owlet was rescued from a fallen tree.

Indeed, providence seems to have inspired sheer determination in both Pendletonians and those who brought aid from the outside.

The sprint to restore normalcy, to dispose of the debris and reopen streets and businesses has been run. Now comes the marathon to close the wounds inflicted by the storm.

Nowhere is this more clear than at Falls Park, where the tornado ripped the community's heart out by laying waste to dozens of beautiful old trees. Saplings will be planted, but it will take decades for them to attain the splendor of their majestic predecessors.

Over the years they will grow tall and strong. Eventually, they will throw shade, shelter birds and cradle children in their boughs.

The new trees of Falls Park will offer testimony to the strength and resilience of the community. They'll tell the story of the tornado of Memorial Day 2019 and how the community huddled together, then rose to meet the challenge.