“It’s the little things” is one of the most overused phrases. But there’s a reason it’s used time and time again.

Last week, when a tornado ripped through northeastern Jay County and into Mercer County, it took along with it pieces from almost two dozen homes and even more outbuildings. There were no injuries, thank God, but the damage still remained.

Driving along those country roads last Friday, I noticed a steady amount of traffic flowing through the area. Road closed signs didn’t mean a thing to responders, friends and family of those affected by the storm. As I walked up to Betsy Minnich on her ravaged property, someone handed her a case of water. Another placed it in a truck. Voices of concern and friendly gestures echoed from others throughout our conversation.

Inside, Matt Minnich bustled through his home as others bombarded him with questions. Where should this go? Should we take this? What about this? In the moment, I don’t think he knew for sure what to do.

Who would?

Natural disasters invoke sheer chaos. When a twister tears into your rural home, littering your walls and foundation across the yard and scattering your personal items across the countryside, what do you do in the aftermath?

In the hours following the tornado, Matt could only revel at the amount of help their family had streaming through their door. Help continued through the weekend and began to die down by the following Monday, when nearly 100 people attended Mass at the Minnichs’ property to pray for them.

The Minnichs weren’t the only local residents impacted by the storm. Many others recounted varying damage across their properties, including destroyed silos, farm and outbuildings. For each resident affected, several more came to offer their help. Volunteers didn’t always know whose house they were unpacking or whose property they were removing debris from. But, in the moment, it didn’t matter.

I doubt any of us expected a natural disaster that day. I know the Minnichs, the Davidsons and others located along the tornado’s path didn’t expect it. Whether or not we expected it, though, it still happened.

When nature strikes, the community reacts. I’m proud to live in a county where neighbors will offer aid in a time of crisis. It’s what makes this place home.

There’s still work to do, though. It can take months or even years to recover from a natural disaster. And despite the support they’ve already received, those affected can always use a helping hand.

It doesn’t have to be a large gesture. Donating food, clothing or toiletries to those who may be living in less than ideal conditions is also a viable option.

Following the tornado, Matt paused while talking to me about the amount of folks stopping through. I wasn’t sure if he was choked up or just trying to formulate a “thank you.” Maybe both.

“Instead of being stressed out about the fact that, you know, (the house is) all tore up, I would say that I’m more moved by the fact that I live in a neighborhood and community that showed up,” he said. “That means more than anything.”

It’s the little things, after all, that often mean the most.