(CNN) -- Celebrated poet and author Maya Angelou, who was born in Missouri, has been watching images from her home in North Carolina of Joplin, Missouri, staggering from the recent tornado's deadly blow. Angelou believes catastrophes such as the one in Missouri reveal our common humanity -- we are united in concern and empathy and perform extraordinary deeds.
At least 125 people died in Joplin when the tornado hit Sunday, the deadliest such event in the U.S. in the 61 years since modern record-keeping began.
Angelou shared her thoughts with CNN.
That there's something good that comes out of a bad thing. It's good to remember that in crises, natural crises, human beings forget for awhile their ignorances, their biases, their prejudices. For a little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers. It's amazing that it takes something like that to bring out the best of us.
The news of Joplin is filled with stories of heroic deeds. They are heroic because people are not obliged to be helpful. Many have stepped into harm's way to help someone else, to help a stranger. It thrills me in the classic sense of the word. It gives me shivers, it gives me goosebumps.