Reflections on Last Year’s Tornado

On April 27th, 2011, epic tornadoes ripped through the South and across the country. Like many others, our town was hit. Hard.

A year later, the devastation is still ever-present. Our old walking path is filled with crumbled homes, empty lots, bare foundations, stripped trees and a debris-filled pond. My heart goes up for those whose lives were forever changed by the storm.

Tornado warnings are no longer taken lightly. Instead, sheer panic threatens my heart when the sirens go off. My mind is filled with all the “what ifs.”

But as I look back on last year’s tornado, the many mini-miracles that litter the story remind me that God is in control. He holds our future in His hands. Whatever happens, I don’t need to panic.

(What sound does a train make? Okay, keep that in mind.)

A tiny closet and how God uses our ignorance

The night before the tornado, thunderstorms rattled our home. I woke up and immediately my hormone-charged pregnant brain started racing.

A huge, ancient tree stands in our front yard. As the thunder boomed and the lightning flashed all around us, waking nightmares ripped through my mind. I pictured the tree crashing through the roof and pinning us in bed, unable to help our little ones.

I cried and prayed and begged God not to let the tree fall on us.

The next morning dawned beautiful and calm. The tree stood strong. The fears of the night before seemed like silly reactions of a pregnant mama.

The weather channel warned of impending tornadoes of epic proportion, but all seemed beautiful outside.

We live in tornado alley and tornado warnings are a dime a dozen. Joshua left for school and I went about my day, and just kept an eye on the weather.

As the afternoon progressed, the warnings became more and more urgent.

Since even our bathroom has a window, I closed the hallway doors, cleared out the hall closet, and propped crib mattresses over it. There was no telling how long the warning might last, so I gathered water and fun snacks and the kids and I hunkered down.

Just as the weather reporter assured us the tornado should miss our town (but to stay in shelter anyway, “just in case”) the power went out. The interent and cell towers were down too.

The kids snuggled deeper into the closet and I squeezed my pregnant self as near to them as I could. We ate snacks, told stories and watched a movie on the ipod.

Through the muffling pile of mattresses and blankets I listened. Listened and prayed (mostly about that tree!)

A crashing, rumbling sound passed by our house and it sounded like it took the kitchen with it. Wow! That wind sounds strong. Maybe the tornado will hit our town after all. I thought. After the panic and prayers of the night before, a strange peace had filled my heart.

But I kept listening for a train sound. I never heard it.

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  1. says

    I’ve always found it interesting that God often doesn’t give peace about things that “could” happen but when we are in the midst of “the real storm,” His peace fills our hearts.
    Reading this brings back memories of Joplin’s tornado. I know exactly how you feel when the places you used to know are gone, the trees bare or completely gone and some still have debris in their upper branches. But the grass is now green, flowers bloom, trees which I thought would never again have leaves are bravely putting forth new growth. All things go on and are made beautiful in His time.

  2. Candace says

    I remember that day so vividly, and the most beautiful part of it through all the horror was seeing your family safely standing outside, amidst all the chaos. It came so close! Love you guys 🙂

    • anna says

      Seeing your face is what made the magnitude of the tornado finally start to sink in. Thanks for loving us enough to walk all that way to make sure we were okay! Sure miss you guys. Hugs!

  3. says

    I’ve never been through it, but I can almost feel the emotions you must have been having! I’ll be looking out for the continuation!

  4. says

    I think it’s amazing how on the same day you were taking shelter from a tornado, I was bringing my third little one into the world. I had no idea what had happened until the next day! God was near to us both when we were praying for His same protection and peace–even in two entirely different circumstances–even when we didn’t know each other yet! Wow.

  5. says

    I was one of about five people in the Beverly C.C. pohorsp/caddy shack when it was leveled by the tornado. I was 13, a caddy, filling in for my older brother as a club cleaner. I never saw it coming, only heard a terrible thunderstorm that turned the afternoon pitch black. Another pro shop worker named Eddie Staffan tackled me just before it hit, throwing both of us behind tall metal racks that were anchored in concrete and held members’ golf bags. They were about the only things left standing. I can still remember the cold, dusty gusts as they tore through the roof and walls. Yes, it sounded like a freight train. I still have a scar on my knuckle from where flying glass from the front window hit my right hand. We had to dig three (I think) people out from under a card table in the front office, where they had hidden themselves at the last minute. No one was seriously injured, although everyone was in total shock. My knuckle didn’t start bleeding for five or 10 minutes. I had no idea what had hit us. Standing in the club parking lot, another stunned survivor asked, What the hell was that? It was only then that I heard the word tornado.

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