Angela Kirks and Thomas Kirks who lost their house are seen hugging after tornado hit Mayfield

The best way to get back to normal after devastating tornadoes? Just start somewhere.

As residents in America’s heartland grapple with grief and devastation following Friday’s tornado outbreak, shaken survivors may find small steps to recovery come from a return to simple routine, such as a visit to the dog park or a chance to bring the kids ice skating, says Daniel Aldrich, a Northeastern professor who studies post-disaster recovery.

Aldrich concedes that resuming scheduled activities like school and church may seem counterintuitive amidst the swaths of leveled buildings and destroyed neighborhoods. But structure and schedule are key for communities to recover in the long term.

“The rhythms of daily life are an under-appreciated but critical asset that we have after communities experience shock,” says Aldrich, who studied resilience and recovery in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and in the Tohoku region of Japan following 2011’s 60-foot tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown.

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Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

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