What can you destroy in 6 seconds? That’s all it took for a tornado to completely destroy a home in Garland the day after Christmas.
“I was about to come lay down to rest. I work overnight. As I was heading towards my bedroom, I told my wife I thought I heard sirens. I walked outside, but didn’t hear sirens. But I did hear that train sound. It was getting more intense. I ran inside and told my wife, brother, sister-in-law and her kid to take cover. Everyone is alive. No one was hurt”.
“How long did it last?” I asked. “5 or 6 seconds”, Ed said.
As my friend Monte and I looked around, we could not believe that no one was hurt. Ed’s entire bedroom was gone. There was little left of the house except a few walls, wet carpet and debris scattered around as if we were in a landfill.
The couple had moved from Wylie 2 months ago to downsize. The tornado reduced their home to nothing and now have very little of anything to keep.
The path of destruction was very precise, but its wake very random. Cars were flipped as if they were toys. Windows were smashed. Mud and insulation were spattered by the high winds onto whatever was in its path, including the cars. Some homes look as if they had exploded – bits and pieces all over the place. The strength of the storm was hard to comprehend.
What was difficult to grasp was how so many were able to survive. As a few of us walked around, I found it difficult to see where one could take refuge from the storm. In Ed’s case, his family was mainly hunkered down in the hallway of his home.
“How can we help?” was a common refrain. One resident was carrying just fragments of what remains. “They’re coming in two days to bulldoze it all. There’s not really much you need to do”.
We prayed with Ed. We thanked God for protecting his family and to provide for them in the aftermath. He went back to picking through the wreckage for anything to carry away, but I believe this was just a way to keep his thoughts off of what the family was going to do in the coming days and weeks. They are homeless right now.
Looking around I saw so much “stuff”. Memories were destroyed. Keepsakes damaged. Toys. Pictures. Tools. All were scattered and likely in a different part of the neighborhood than were they were before.
Strangely, imagining I was in this situation, I felt relief; that I could start over. I would no longer have to bear the burden of deciding what I would carry with me throughout this life. The tornado had decided for me. I would keep nothing. I imagine it was the same for some in the neighborhood.
“For we brought nothing into the world,and we can take nothing out – 1 Timothy 6:7″.
Ed said something that stuck with me. He said, “You watch other people go through this and you feel bad. But then you sorta forget about it once you change the channel or turn off the TV. When it happens to you, it’s different”.
For a man who had survived a direct hit from an EF-4 tornado, he was strikingly calm. “He was definitely looking out for us”, he said as he pointed to the sky.
From there, my fellow brothers and sister from Genesis Metro Church (Monte Hadnot, Mark and Kelly Handy, Ed Ortiz) and I helped in the neighborhood. At times, it was hard to know what to do. You didn’t know where to begin. Thanks be to God for the hearts and hands that were provided today from not just Genesis Metro, but New Liberty Baptist Church, Operation Blessing and more.
We cleared downed trees, trash, boards, shingles and just about anything else broken apart by the tornado. There is definitely more that can be done, but the damage was so extensive, a bulldozer is about the only quick way to clean up.
For now, the need is to help owners salvage whatever they can before the clearing by bulldozer. Additionally, listen for other needs like places to stay, financial donations, and especially spiritual needs.
If you’d like to help out, feel free to contact Genesis Metro Church at: 469-287-5995. You can make a financial donation as well. Be sure to enter, Garland / Rowlett Tornado relief in the memo.
“And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” Romans 10:15