It is May. The month of May and our homes have a bit of a history. We have lost two of our homes to storms, so every time a tornado siren goes off my heart skips a bit. I am very calm on the outside, but the heart has a mind all its own!
In 1982 I worked in a grocery store. I had just gotten off work and headed to our rented mobile home. We had been married three years and had the world by the tail. I was about to graduate with a teaching degree and my husband had just gotten a great job. We had just put down money on our first home. We were to move within the month.
I had walked in the door and was looking out my kitchen window. It had been a very humid, sultry day and simply felt weird outside. As I looked out the window, I noticed some low-lying red clouds. I walked out on our porch and glanced to my left….and saw it. The tornado was headed right for our home!! This was before warning sirens, and we had our air conditioner, television and the mobile home was closed up tighter than a drum.
We managed to get to our landlord’s basement and it was over as quickly as it had started. As we walked up the basement stairs, we realized that the house we were in had only one wall standing. We glanced at what was left of our mobile home, we realized that the home in front of ours was now a part of our home. All was lost. The odd thing was, our small car sat in the driveway..unscathed.
We shook, we cried and we wondered what we would do. We had not purchased any kind of renter’s insurance..we were just young kids and did not know any better. But the worse thing was watching the monster move on towards Marion, and towards what appeared to be my mother’s home. It was personified to me!
The tornado destroyed my mom’s home, as well as everything else in its’ path. Thankfully, those with my mom were just injured as the house moved from its foundation to the driveway. There were deaths in the apartment complexes across the street from her home.
This storm produced 10 deaths and 52 businesses and 300 homes were destroyed, 324 homes were damaged, and over 200 cars destroyed. Over 200 were injured and 1,000 left homeless.
It was a horrible time in our lives, but we survived. People reached out and loved us. We ended up getting in our just purchased home, I graduated and got a teaching job. We didn’t know how we would get to the next day, but we did. God was so good…He gave us hope.
God continued to give us hope through every circumstance in our lives, even in May 2009, as an approximately 200-year-old tree fell through our roof in the derecho! Lightning may not strike twice, but wind does!
I was actually home on a half personal day from teaching and watching the radar on my laptop at the kitchen table. We had already been in the hallway at school while the sirens bellowed. I was even late getting back home…
My daughter in law was graduating from college and looking upon that radar with all the rain, I was having a fashion crisis. That’s when I heard it…“Tamara, under the table.”
Now, let it be said that since the ’82 tornado I now approached every storm in the same manner. I put the dog on a leash, grab my purse, put on my shoes, grab my cell phone. I am always ready to run and take cover. This day was no exception. When I heard that phrase, I got under the table. Just in time too. As soon as I got under, the dog and I got a scare I will never forget. That huge oak tree fell through the house. It went through the living room, den, kitchen and hallway. I heard the horrible wind and felt the rain. I could hear more trees being ripped from their roots and falling. Shaking, I tried to get out, but maneuvering around the tree limbs, ceiling and fallen debris was almost impossible. I was not seriously injured, only a cut on my foot.
I somehow made it, with my dog in tow, to the hall way to turn off the gas to the furnace. I knew that needed to be done for some reason because of the damage. Once that was accomplished I made a phone call to my husband first, then 911. The firemen were already on their way.
The firemen could not get through any of the doors. So I know I was in shock because I envisioned Brad Pitt and George Clooney rescuing me from my terrible dilemma. Then I saw my neighbor in the mix and knew that I indeed “envisioned” it. I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but it helped to laugh!
We slept on my in laws couch that night. We had no idea what we were going to do. Where would we live? How would we be able to recover our memories of 30 years of marriage? The home that we raised the boys in would never be the same. It felt hopeless, yet the Lord never left our side and gave us a peace that indeed passes all understanding.
And that peace continued. Our insurance was wonderful. We rented a home from a friend whom we hadn’t heard from in years. She heard our dilemma and offered to help. Friends came from all over to help us recover all we could from our home.
We got back into our home 4 months later. A little different, newer….but still home. We had made it. I still occasionally sit and replay that afternoon in my mind. It still feels surreal. Both storms. Both times of feeling helpless.
But both times the Lord did not abandon us. He took care of our needs and much more. I don’t understand the “why” of things and their happenings. Why one house is standing and next door someone lost their life. It does not make sense. But there are many things in this world that do not.
Be encouraged friends…you will get through this. As hard as it seems now, as hurt as you feel….HE is there. There is hope.
IN CHRIST ALONE
*personal images, NIV Bible, MDR news