The first indication I had that something was terribly wrong came in an email from a friend who also hails from the Joplin, Mo., area. It was a beautiful Sunday in May. Joplin\u2019s high school had just celebrated their graduation, but my friend, whose father taught at the local college, saw a disturbing message crawling across the bottom of CNN\u2019s screen. \u201cAre you watching Weather Channel?\u201d he wrote. I hadn\u2019t, but I flipped on the television to see images of my hometown blown to thunder. A third of Joplin had been swept away by an EF5 tornado that cut a path of destruction 22 miles long through two counties. The names of the dead were trickling in, and that list would include a man named Johnnie, spelled like that, whom I used to race on the playground in grade school. Though I hail from a small town just to the north, I came to Jesus in Joplin, got my first job in Joplin, and my first apartment. I knew every street of that town, but I did not recognize the piles of splinters on the screen. I began calling everyone I knew, starting with family members. My aunt answered, but her voice was flat. I asked if she was alone because I was afraid to hang up on her. My uncle was there, but they\u2019d just lived through 38 minutes of a storm that killed 161 people. They were OK, but shaken. I couldn\u2019t track down my older brother, and each of my voicemails got progressively meaner. My first \u201cHey, buddy I saw the tornado on television. Give me a call back\u201d became a profanity-laden message that promised dire consequences if I didn\u2019t hear from him. When he finally called back, he told me he\u2019d been south of the tornado\u2019s range, and he was fine, if a little concerned about my anger at him. I flew out because Joplin is home, and home was hurting. The streets where I once worked on a church bus looked like a moonscape. Trees were stripped of their bark, and metal was twisted around those denuded trees. I\u2019d lived through tornadoes (it is Tornado Alley, after all) but nothing compared to this. The only time I cried was when I watched all those other volunteers crowd into that corner of the state simply because they wanted to help. A guy named Clint loaded up his smoker and 450 pounds of pork, drove to Joplin, and started handing out heavenly sandwiches to anyone who walked by. I met a demo crew from California, and another from Florida, both of which must have been loading their pickups before the rain stopped Joplin, and then they must have driven fast. This wasn\u2019t just domestic help. A man flew all the way from Japan to pay it forward after Americans traveled to his home country to help rebuild after a devastating tsunami killed nearly 16,000 just a few months before. CNN ran a story on how best to help Joplin, but they needn\u2019t have bothered. In total, the town was the beneficiary of some $17.7 million in volunteer labor \u2014 more than 1.5 million hours \u2014 alone. Big-hearted people donated some $39 million for rebuilding efforts, and that\u2019s only counting money sent to larger organizations such as Community Foundation of the Ozarks. And then there was the federal aid. President Barack Obama came and gave a speech in what is decidedly not Obama country. During his first presidential campaign, NPR posited that Joplin was the \u201creddest corner in Missouri,\u201d but residents who couldn\u2019t get tickets to hear him lined the streets and waved flags at his motorcade. That wasn\u2019t the half of it. The United Arab Emirates sent laptops for every high school student in Joplin, and then helped fund a new neonatal ICU at a local hospital. I went out several times, and it was stunning to chart the transformation. A year after the disaster, President Obama returned to give the commencement speech for Joplin\u2019s class of 2012 and repeated the refrain \u201cbecause you\u2019re from Joplin\u201d (you will understand how good people can be). To be the beneficiary of that kind of kindness from strangers is humbling and beautiful. It makes you realize you are connected in ways you never imagined. I think about this every time devastating weather strikes, and I have thought about this a lot since Hurricane Fiona plowed through Puerto Rico, which was already struggling. Hurricane Maria left a pile of devastation in 2017 and parts of the island had not yet recovered. After that storm, roughly 13,000 people left the island to come to Connecticut, and most of them came to Hartford. While less intense than Maria, Fiona left the island in the dark and without water in triple-digit heat. Early estimates say the island has taken a multi-billion dollar hit. President Joe Biden has promised to cover Puerto Rico\u2019s cost of recovery for the next month, but Puerto Rico needs far more than tossed paper towels, or even a month\u2019s worth of recovery. About 17 percent of Connecticut\u2019s residents are Hispanic\/Latinx. In Connecticut, most of the people in that demographic hail from Puerto Rico. According to the state Department of Administrative Services, Hartford has the most \u201cdensely populated Puerto Rican population in the world\u201d \u2014 including Puerto Rico. Yes, it\u2019s easier to load up your pickup and dash to Joplin than to make your way to Salinas or Caguas, but there are multiple organizations on the ground who can use your help. Maybe for me it\u2019s the memory of a line of anonymous volunteers making their way to Joplin, but we should never forget that Connecticut is intrinsically tied to the island. We are connected.\u00a0 Susan Campbell is the author of \u201cFrog Hollow: Stories from an American Neighborhood,\u201d \u201cTempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker\u201d and \u201cDating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl.\u201d She is Distinguished Lecturer at the University of New Haven, where she teaches journalism.