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The Whirlwind and the Storm

May 2, 2010

I am typing this entry on my phone, via a wireless keyboard, by candlelight. The combination of ancient and modern technologies to write a blog article seems slightly paradoxical and ironic to me. Sunday morning a little after 3 AM, I was awakened from a sound slumber by the squealing of sirens in Selmer. The sirens were giving warning of a possible tornado. For the next several minutes I listened to the storm outside and watched the nearly continuous flashes of lightning. Several minutes later the sirens sounded again, indicating to me that the situation was more than a mere possibility but a strong certainty of tornadoes in the region. Ruth and I went to the car to listen to the weather band radio and attempt to get a bead on where the worst storms were and what we might need to do. We listened, and watched, and pondered and listened some more. By 3:30 we were both convinced we needed to drive a couple of miles down the road to the safety of a storm shelter. We rushed inside, grabbed the kids and hurried back to the car. By then it was too late. In the brief time it took to run from the car to the house and back again, the storm was on us and past. We left the driveway to find a tree blocking most of the entrance and twenty feet down the road another tree blocking the entire road. So we changed course, bundled the kids back inside and waited out the remainder of the squall. By four the kids were back in bed. As dawn came, I ventured down the road to see the extent of the damage. In the intervening time neighbors had cleared the blocked road of the trees, and I was able to venture down toward my brother’s, and several church members homes. On the way I encountered a plethora of downed trees, power lines scattered across the road and a number of homes damaged by the storm. Apparently, the tornado began dipping a half mile south west of our house and skipped for a mile or two before settling down for a couple more miles. The result was hit and miss damage, including the destruction of a nearby church building, before a steady string of broken trees and destroyed homes. The neighbors’ homes across the street from one of the church families were severely damaged. One of these homes was almost totally destroyed, leaving behind three standing walls and a lot of debris. Another home suffered severe damage on its backside and the loss of all its stables and outbuildings. At this time I don’t know the official designation of the tornado, but I do know it left a trail of debris and destruction miles long. Thankfully there were apparently no major injuries. In just a few minutes’ time, the storm rushed in, wreaked massive destruction and was gone. In those same few minutes, God worked marvelous protection and guidance. Ruth has routinely been reminding the kids, “The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm.” (Nahum 1:3) and so He does. If we had been able to leave our driveway, we would have been in the middle of falling trees and power lines. If the tornado had skipped a little differently, we would have personally felt its destruction. If the storm had shifted 100 yards to the west, several families in the church would have been drastically effected. As it was, aside from a handful of downed trees on the property, we were totally unscathed by the storm. One man in the church had an Oak tree fall on his truck and another man lost the roofing on one corner of his house. All in all, the church was as lightly effected by a tornado walking down the road as we could possibly imagine. While we would continue to praise the Lord even if the damage to our lives and possessions had been much greater, we rejoice that He was gracious in protecting family, friends and property. We ask that you will pray for those who suffered great loss and for the members of Lighthouse Baptist Church who will minister to them in the days ahead.

The damage done to a nearby church

Another view of the same church

Notice the buckled wall on this house. The pressure was so great it blew out that end of the house.

This home is directly across the street from one of the church members. The owner was inside when the tornado hit, but thankfully was unharmed. You can just see the right end wall has collapsed.

The next house down, across the street from church folks.

The previous home owners lost all their stables.

Long before daylight men were out opening the roads up. By dawn one could drive through most of the affected area.

Praise the Lord this is the closest we came to any damage to our home or vehicles.

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